Fraser Fyvie reckons his old Wigan team-mate Martyn Waghorn has a short memory, having described Hibs as “pretty basic” and “nothing great” on the evidence of a bounce game between the two sides as they shared a training camp in the south of Spain.
Waghorn scored two late goals in that match in La Manga, the temperature hitting 30C despite an early evening kick-off, to earn Gary Caldwell’s team a 2-1 victory, Fyvie himself having given Hibs a first-half lead,
But having made the switch to Rangers along with fellow Wigan players James Tavernier and Rob Kiernan, Waghorn has stoked the fire ahead of tomorrow’s Petrofac Training Cup clash between the two teams expected to be the frontrunners for the Championship title with his disparaging comments about the Capital club.
Adamant Hibs place an over-reliance on Scott Allan, the subject of two failed bids of £175,000 and £250,000 id from the Ibrox club –both rejected out of hand by Hibs – Waghorn insisted that once Wigan negated the threat of the midfield playmaker, Alan Stubbs’ side were pretty ordinary.
However, Fyvie’s recollection of that Saturday night of only a few weeks ago differs somewhat, the ex-Aberdeen midfielder saying: “Martyn can say what he wants, the fact is that in La Manga we absolutely battered them in the first half. They were poor, really poor, but all right in the second half.”
What Fyvie would agree on with Waghorn is the importance of 23-year-old Allan to Hibs, believing Rangers obviously don’t value his team-mate as much as they’d like people to think given the paucity of the offer made.
He said: “Everyone knows Scott is a big part of our team, a massive player for us and we want him to stay. Every time I’m on the ball looking for him, you know if you thump it in to him he’ll take it and go.
“He plays those through balls, he creates and in pre-season he’s scored a couple as well so we all know what he can do. Take a player like him out of a team and you’d miss him greatly, but the fact is he is here for us and hopefully he’ll give Rangers a torrid time tomorrow.
“Everyone has been aware of the interest Rangers have shown but they could be playing mind games given the bid that’s not been accepted. I don’t think Rangers should be putting in silly bids, they are obviously not looking at him as that big an asset. There’s no point in coming in with a couple of hundred grand, that’s not going to get them anywhere.
“They say they want him but I think that proves they don’t value him that much.”
If Fyvie agrees with Waghorn’s assessment of Allan, he also believes player who once signed for Leicester City from Sunderland for £3million, has overlooked the fact that the Hibs side consists of ten other players.
He said: “Scott’s a great player for Hibs, but it’s not just about Scott. He does get between the lines a lot of times but we have others capable of doing that. James Keatings, although he has picked up a little injury, was fantastic in his first few days of training. He can do that job but we also have many other quality players throughout the team.”
While both Stubbs and new Rangers boss Mark Warburton might have viewed the first round of the Petrofac Training Cup as another pre-season match with the new league campaign still a fortnight away, the fact the two clubs have been thrown together at this stage for the second year in a row has, Fyvie admitted, put a different complexion on things.
He said: “It’ll be a good game, the clubs played each other a good number of times last season, we won some, they won some. But if we can win, as we always look to do, then it gives you that bit extra confidence going into the season. It will be a good battle, Rangers have strengthened but we’ve also strengthened our squad.
“There’s always that bit of excitement for a game like this, both teams will be looking to put down something of a marker for what’s to come.”
But while agreeing that both Hibs and Rangers will expect to be “up there” when it all comes to an end, Fyvie insisted it would be “disrespectful” to the other teams in the league to start talking of a two horse race.
He said: “I think people will expect the big two, and that’s Hibs and Rangers, to be up there and both clubs will expect to be up there. But there are plenty of other teams in the league and there’s always going to be one nibbling away.
“Queen of the South were out in La Manga at the same time we were there and they also gave Wigan a bit of a game seemingly. They’ve lost a few players but they’ve got a very good manager in James Fowler.
“I’d imagine Ian Murray will have St Mirren strong and Falkirk will be another tough team to play again. You can’t write teams off and say it’s going to be a two horse race, you only have to look at some of the results last season to realise everyone will want to have a say.
“I’ve seen a lot said about teams going to do this and that, but the place to do your talking is on the pitch, to make sure we are up there – that’s the club’s aim, the manager’s aim and the players’ aim. We have to quietly about making it happen.”