Hibs boss Terry Butcher today admitted he’s facing a selection headache as he prepares to name his side for Saturday’s Scottish Cup clash with Raith Rovers – just who to leave out.
While Butcher’s squad for the match against Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic a fortnight ago was left threadbare by injury and suspension, he is now spoiled for choice. Paul Hanlon has returned to training, Scott Robertson is available having served a one-game ban, and the squad is also boosted by the arrival of three January signings – Danny Haynes, Duncan Watmore and Daniel Boateng.
The performances of youngsters Sam Stanton, Alex Harris and Abdellah Zoubir along with that of Tom Taiwo have also given Butcher plenty of food for thought – although he certainly isn’t complaining.
He knows, however, that he’ll need to strike a balance with Haynes, Watmore and Boateng anxious to make their debuts but the primary objective being to advance into the quarter-finals of the competition.
He said: “I have good selection options rather than selection problems. It’s not a problem when you have a big squad. I think I have a much better squad and a much better balanced squad, players that can play in a good variety of positions.
“I will select a team I feel will win on the day along with the substitutes.”
Although the final 4-0 scoreline suggests Hibs were subjected to a hammering by Celtic, Butcher was heartened by what he had seen – particularly from players such as Taiwo and Zoubir, who had been on seemingly out of the picture in previous weeks.
While Ryan McGivern will again miss out as he nurses a hamstring injury, Butcher said: “The boys are keen and itching to get back – not so much because it’s Raith in the cup but the fact they have not played for two weeks after the Celtic game.
“We want to build on that performance. I thought it was excellent, especially from people like Sam, Alex and Abdellah – they played really well, as did Tom. Everyone gave powerful displays, so it will be great to get back into action. Whether it’s a Premiership game, a Scottish Cup tie or the League Cup, we are not bothered. We are just happy to be back.
“I know roughly what I am going to do, so we will work on that today. We’ve already worked on facets of our play. We haven’t had a game to concern ourselves with last week. We had a good weekend to relax and recharge the batteries, and the boys are raring to go.
“I’ve seen that in training. They are very keen to impress the newcomers, and the newcomers are desperate to do well. It’s been intense with good quality and we want to take that into the game.
“We want to use that energy and the freshness these new boys bring to the side, and that can certainly be transformed in to a really good, positive display.”