Hibs boss Alan Stubbs believes “Stokes mania” will tempt a bumper crowd along to Easter Road today as the Edinburgh club enjoy their only home game in seven outings.
After away matches at Raith Rovers and Falkirk, this afternoon’s visit of St Mirren will be the Hibees’ only game on home turf until the middle of next month with two trips to Tynecastle on League and Scottish Cup business sandwiching a journey to Greenock, followed by a Saturday evening kick-off in Livingston.
Reason enough for the Hibs fans to turn out but, with on-loan Celtic striker Anthony Stokes in his matchday squad, Stubbs anticipates great interest in the match with supporters recalling how the Republic of Ireland star claimed 23 goals in his first spell in the Capital.
Fellow January transfer window signings Chris Dagnall and Niklas Gunnarsson are also in line to make their home debuts against the Buddies with Hibs desperate for all three points to keep the heat on Rangers and Falkirk following last weekend’s draw with the Bairns. Kevin Thomson, who last night completed a deal to join Hibs until the end of the season, will also be in the squad.
Stubbs said: “It’s been a while since we’ve been at home, and it feels like it. But it’s just the way the fixtures have fallen which happens sometimes plus the fact we’re at Tynecastle two weeks in succession in the cups.
“So it’s a bit of a novelty in a way to be playing at home and I’m sure the fans will turn out for it. It’s a chance for them to see a few new signings, players they are all excited about and so they should be.”
While Stokes, of course, will be the centre of attention, Stubbs insisted a chance for many to get their first look at striker Dagnall and Norwegian defender Gunnarsson will be an added attraction.
He said: “There should be a really good atmosphere, I’d imagine there will be a big crowd which will be great to see and hear.”