Hibs goalkeeper Mark Brown will make only his third appearance of the season as he takes over from Graham Stack for tonight’s Scottish Communities League Cup showdown with Celtic.
Brown’s heroics against his former club Motherwell earned the Easter Road outfit their place in the quarter-final as he saved spot-kicks from Jamie Murphy and Nicky Law in a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory
Although Brown felt his performance that night was enough to stake a claim for a first-team return, boss Colin Calderwood, pictured, reinstated Stack, who has kept his place for Hibs’ five SPL games since.
However, Calderwood today revealed he’ll stick by his decision to play Brown in the League Cup, giving him the chance to dump another of his old clubs and open the door for Hibs to go all the way to a Hampden final with Kilmarnock, the only other SPL side assured of a semi-final berth after Falkirk and Ayr United pulled off shocks against Dundee United and St Mirren last night.
Calderwood is well aware of Brown’s frustration at his lack of action having made 28 appearances last season, far more than either Stack or Graeme Smith. He said: “Every player wants to play in every game and they are disappointed when they aren’t picked.
“Mark has done very well both in training and in the matches he has played. We made the decision he’d play in the League Cup games so he’ll play tonight.” Calderwood will be forced into one more change with on-loan Celtic defender Richie Towell ineligible to face his “parent” club, a situation which gives the Hibs boss something of a headache with right-back Michael Hart a long-term injury victim.
Victor Palsson or David Wotherspoon are capable of playing in that position although both prefer a midfield berth. Calderwood said: “I’d prefer to have had Richie there as a Hibs player but he is a Celtic player and the rules dictate he is not allowed to play.”
Calderwood, though, has received a double boost ahead of the 7.15pm kick-off with flying winger Ivan Sproule having recovered from the knocks which kept him out of the weekend win over St Mirren, while new dad Sean O’Hanlon has declared himself ready despite the arrival of his son Kieran in the early hours of Monday morning.
O’Hanlon, who scored his first goal against the Saints, said: “I’ve not been getting too much sleep, and I don’t know how much I’m going to get, but I am focused on the game. It’s a big one, so, of course, I’ll be up for it.”
And, as reported by the Evening News on Monday, Sproule will also be ready to take his place. Calderwood said: “Ivan had a few knocks and a real tightness in both hamstrings so we felt a week of recovery and a bit of treatment was the right decision. He’s come out fresh and ready to go.”