Hibs’ fringe men ready to put on a show

Akpo Sodje
Akpo Sodje
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Hibs fringe players such as Callum Booth, Martin Scott and Akpo Sodje are prepared to step into the first team as the club looks to arrest a winless run of four matches.

Billy Brown pitted all three, as well as the recently-injured Ian Murray and the returning Michael Hart, into action for a bounce game against Livingston and was pleased with what he saw ahead of Saturday’s SPL trip to St Johnstone.

Young striker David Crawford, currently on loan at Brechin, scored twice and Akpo Sodje, who was not selected in Brown’s squad for Saturday’s draw with Kilmarnock, struck once in a 3-0 win yesterday.

Brown declared himself happy with the size of the squad he has inherited from Colin Calderwood but says the challenge is to maintain fitness levels in readiness for competitive SPL football.

“Certainly these games help players confidence-wise, but obviously friendly games on a Tuesday afternoon are a different idea to SPL games. With these games, it’s all about match fitness,” he said.

“You need the number of players that we’ve got but getting games for them all is difficult with no reserve league. These games are worth their weight in gold.

“I don’t know if any of them will play on Saturday, we’ll have to see how things progress during the week.”

Hart played his first competitive match of the season in the weekend draw with Kilmarnock, while Scott featured in senior action after a month-long lay-off. Club captain Murray hasn’t figured at senior level for almost a month, and a combination of injury and loss of form has kept Booth out of the first team since the end of September. “We’re getting near a full squad,” said Brown. “The problem is with our team is not many have regular games under their belts.”

Brown revealed that English midfielder Matt Thornhill was omitted from the squad to face Kilmarnock on Saturday at the last minute as his wife went into labour. Thornhill was due for inclusion in the Hibs pool, but he left Easter Road in time for his partner to give birth.

Hibs drew Cowdenbeath in yesterday’s draw for the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. The tie will be played at Central Park in the Fife town on January 7 or 8.