HIBS boss Colin Calderwood today insisted the prospect of playing Rangers at Ibrox will help his weary players power over the final hurdle of an intense fixture list.
Speaking as the Edinburgh team prepared to face the SPL leaders today, Calderwood admitted his charges, who will complete a sequence of five games in 15 days, were tired from their efforts in stringing together an unbeaten run during the past fortnight.
However, the Easter Road manager stressed his stars would be buoyed by both their recent form – including a 3-2 win over St Johnstone on Wednesday evening – and the incentive of playing in front of a 50,000 crowd in Govan.
“There’s obviously fatigue, because you can’t play a game of football and not have an effect from it,” said Calderwood. “The people who haven’t started are certainly very much in contention because we’ve got to have a full tank; the ones who have played will be buoyed by Ibrox and Rangers, buoyed by our midweek victory – and it certainly helps that they’ll be getting some days off after today.”
With a packed schedule behind them, Hibs will be glad of the international break, which will allow further recovery time for Sean Welsh and long-term injury victims Danny Galbraith, Matt Thornhill, and Michael Hart.
Hibs have only won at Ibrox three times in their last 29 visits, with 3-0 the score on each occasion. Calderwood’s only previous visit to Ibrox - last November - resulted in his first three-point haul as Hibs manager, a shock victory coming courtesy of the now-departed trio of Liam Miller, John Rankin and Francis Dickoh. The manager denied his new-look team can draw confidence from that result, but he insisted they will not be fazed by the occasion.
“No, I don’t think so - not now. We go there often enough,” said Calderwood.
“When you’re going there once a season in years gone by, I think that might have been slightly different. But we can play them four to six times a season and three of them might be at Ibrox. It becomes easier to go to those grounds.”