Butcher’s sympathy for ‘under pressure’ Callum Booth

An animated Terry Butcher. Pic: Greg Macvean. Callum Booth, below
An animated Terry Butcher. Pic: Greg Macvean. Callum Booth, below
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Terry Butcher today admitted he feels sorry for on-loan Hibs player Callum Booth who will be “under enormous pressure” as he faces the Easter Road club in Saturday’s Scottish Cup clash with Championship outfit Raith Rovers.

The 22-year-old was farmed out to the Kirkcaldy club by former Hibs manager Pat Fenlon for the season and while Scottish Premiership rules prevent players in his position lining up against their “parent club,” there’s nothing to stop the left back doing so in the Cup, as the Evening News revealed yesterday.

Raith boss Grant Murray has already indicated Booth, who has become a key figure in the Stark’s Park outfit’s push for a Championship play-off, will be one of the first names on his teamsheet for the fifth round tie.

Butcher revealed there had been a discussion between the clubs regarding the situation Booth, a member of the Hibs Under-20 side which won the League and Cup double, finds himself. He said: “There was talk but he is their player, there’s nothing in the loan agreement to say he can’t play against us so at the end of the day we just get on with it.

“However, it does put enormous pressure on Callum and I do feel sorry for him. But he has done very well there, they like him, he is part of their team so I don’t think there will be a change there. It’s not ideal circumstances, he is under pressure but he is a professional and he will just get on with it.”

Saturday will be Booth’s first appearance at Easter Road in more than two years, his last game a 3-2 defeat by St Johnstone in which he scored Hibs’ second goal. But the youngster then fell out of favour under Butcher’s predecessor Pat Fenlon, who sent him out on a season-long loan to Livingston and then Raith.

Butcher, however, is looking forward to having Booth back in the summer and has already told him so. Recalling how Booth scored a spectacular 30-yard goal against Inverness Caley when he was in charge of the Highland club, the Hibs boss said: “What a goal that was. Everyone talked about him having a very bright future but you do need to go and play first-team football on a regular basis, which is what he has done.

“He’s improved as a player. He has another year of his contract at Hibs and I have spoken to him and said I would like to see him back at Easter Road in pre-season.

“It was good to speak to him. He’s a lovely boy and he was delighted with the call.”

While Booth’s involvement will add intrigue to the tie, Butcher insisted it’s Raith as a team he’s focused on, not just one individual. He said: “We won’t be singling Callum out or looking to put him under pressure – we want to do that to everyone in the Raith team. His presence won’t influence what we do. We will just play our game, try to score goals and win the tie.

“Callum is a good player, but they are a good team. I know they have not won in quite a few games at the moment, but this is cup football so I am not concerned about their run or situation. Raith have a good record against top sides and we know very well what they can do. They can play a variety of formations and systems, but it’s up to us. It’s more important what we do and that’s what we are focused on this week.”

Meanwhile, Hibs’ Premiership match at Inverness, postponed from last weekend, will be played on Tuesday, February 18.