Danny Handling free to face Hearts in derby

Danny Handling has a chance to establish himself
Danny Handling has a chance to establish himself
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Hibs midfielder Danny Handling will be available for the first Edinburgh derby of the season – despite being hit with a two-match ban following his Ibrox red card.

The 20-year-old was sent off by referee John Beaton for a 79th-minute tackle on Rangers winger David Templeton after hauling the Easter Road side level in Tuesday night’s Petrofac Training Cup clash, which ten-man Hibs then lost in extra-time. Afterwards head coach Alan Stubbs described Beaton’s decision as “harsh”, claiming that more often than not Handling’s indiscretion would have been punished by a yellow card rather than red. He was also adamant it had changed the game with Hibs in the ascendancy at that point.

However, Hibs today revealed they won’t be appealing the ordering off, which means Handling will automatically miss the opening game of the Championship at home to Livingston on Saturday. However, the second half of the ban will only take effect when he next plays in the Petrofac Training Cup, leaving him free to face Hearts at Tynecastle a week on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Stubbs is convinced his side will “win a lot of games” in the coming season if they continue to perform as they did in Glasgow this week. Although disappointed to have lost, he was delighted with a display which drew many plaudits.

He said: “There were an awful lot of positives from the game. I’ve told the players they won’t experience that losing feeling too many times if they play like that.

“I don’t want us to lose games, but play well. But I know for a fact if we perform like that then we are going to win a lot of games this season.

“There was disappointment in the dressing-room after the game and, for me, that’s good to see, because it means it hurt and it shows the players really care.”

Stubbs insisted, however, that his main priority was the Championship, with Hibs hoping they can engineer an immediate return to the top flight. He said: “If we can do well in cup competitions then that will be fantastic, but our main aim for the season is to finish as high as we can.

“Going by the performance at Ibrox, things are starting to look positive on the pitch. The performance answered a lot of questions. The players have gone through a really disappointing nine months, but to show the courage to go to Ibrox and to take the game to them means they deserve an awful lot of credit.

“All I’ve done is talk to them, give them direction and give them belief, so that they’re not afraid to make mistakes. Slowly and surely we’re taking steps in the right direction.”