Alan Stubbs today declared Capital rivals Hearts favourites to win next month’s Scottish Cup derby but insisted a trip to Tynecastle holds no fears for his players.
The draw for the last 16 of the competition pitched the Edinburgh clubs together although they were made to wait, Hearts second last out of the hat followed by the Easter Road outfit.
And Stubbs, who watched the draw live as it was screened from Hampden, admitted he was as excited as any fan of the two clubs at the prospect of a Capital derby on the weekend of February 6-7, which will be a second visit in a week to Gorgie for Hibs, who will face St Johnstone in the semi-final of the League Cup on the other side of the city the previous weekend.
But it is a match which he is relishing. He said: “It’s the tie of the round, something to really look forward to. An Edinburgh derby, great. It will have everyone excited. I certainly am.
“It will be a great game, a great occasion, a full-house at Tynecastle where we will have a big chunk of the crowd. It has the makings of being a real cracker.
“We’ve got two teams who are going really well at the moment. We’re a month away from it and have a lot of other big games before then but I’m sure it will be one that’s on everybody’s minds and all Hibs fans will be looking forward to it.
“We haven’t had an Edinburgh derby this season, but the fact it’s Hearts in the Scottish Cup makes it a special game. Every club wants a derby. Now we have one and one big team is going to go out of the cup.
“Yes, Hearts will be favourites. They are the Premiership club, they are doing well and are at home so it is advantage to them. We’ll have to play really well to beat them but they’ll have to play well to beat us.
“I’d imagine both sides will say they are better than they were last season, in terms of the way we play and the personnel we have but we’re undefeated against them since the first game of last season.
“That was then, though, and this is a completely different game and occasion. It’s not a league game with three points at stake but the chance to make the last eight of the cup.”
Stubbs admitted that as the draw unfolded he began to think an Edinburgh derby was inevitable although he conceded that, as any manager would, he’d have rather seen his club’s name come out first.
“If I was being really selfish that’s the way I would have wanted it. But you don’t always get everything your way. We’ll have to do it the hard way, but we’ll be going there looking to get the result we all want.”
Hibs will get a larger allocation of tickets than many away clubs have been afforded at Tynecastle this season but Stubbs claimed: “It wouldn’t matter if we have 1000, 3000 or 5000, they’ll still make a noise and get right behind the team while we’ll be hoping to put on a performance to get us through.”
Before then, Hibs face Saints at the same venue the weekend before, a match which will give newcomers to the Easter Road squad a taste of the atmosphere they can expect.
He added: “We’re getting to the stage where every week is going to be a big game. The fact this one is against our local rivals means there will be more focus and attention on it, but it’s going to be a fantastic day.”