Alan Stubbs has already picked Hibs’ starting XI for the League Cup final against Ross County, but he won’t be telling his players until Sunday.
While some managers prefer to let their charges know the team a day or two in advance, the Easter Road head coach usually does it on the day of a game. He is likely to inform his players of his selection before they depart their pre-match base at Mar Hall, near Glasgow, to head for Hampden.
Four men who definitely won’t be involved are Paul Hanlon, Dylan McGeouch, Dan Carmichael and Danny Handling. While Hanlon and Handling were already ruled out by injury, Stubbs has now confirmed that McGeouch and Carmichael will both miss out through groin problems. Fraser Fyvie has an outside chance of being involved as he battles back from medial ligament damage, but the fact Stubbs has already decided on his line-up would indicate that the best the former Aberdeen and Wigan midfielder can hope for is a place on the bench.
“It is pretty clear what I am going to go with, unless something changes between now and the day of the game,” said Stubbs, speaking from Hibs’ training base on the Costa del Sol. “I know more or less what I am going to go with. I have not told the players yet and I won’t tell them until cup final day. I am a bit of an old traditionalist that way and cup finals, the build-up and naming the team on the day of the game are part of that for me.
“The players will feel that little bit of nervousness about whether they are going to play or not. Then there will be the excitement once the team is named.
“I might name it a little bit earlier on the day of the game. I always tell my players the team on match days. I have had managers who have named their sides the day before but it is an individual thing.
“I like to keep things like that in-house but even if the team did get leaked out it is not going to make a big difference. If people knew my team today would it make a huge difference come Sunday? Not a lot. I think both managers have a decent idea on what our respective teams are going to be anyway. It is all about who performs the best on Sunday.”
Stubbs explained that McGeouch, who is in Spain with his team-mates, will see a specialist to try and resolve the groin injury which has plagued him for much of the season.
“Dylan is not going to make Sunday, unfortunately,” he said. “I’m gutted for him because he has tried hard to get back and it has been a frustrating injury for him.
“It’s nothing serious, it may only be a couple of weeks that he’s out. But I think this time we are really going to try to get to the bottom of it. We’re going to get a professional opinion for him.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs explained that winning the League Cup on Sunday will mean more to him than anything he achieved in a decorated playing career with the likes of Bolton, Everton and Celtic.
“It would be the biggest achievement for me because it’s the first time I have been to a cup final as a manager,” he said. “I don’t know what it is but I seem to get more satisfaction out of what I will hopefully achieve in management.
“This would top anything I did as a player. I don’t know what is, but being in charge of a group of players seems more satisfying than any individual accolade or medal. This would make me more proud than anything. As a manager, when you’re working on it, it just seems to be more satisfying.”