Hibs aiming to silence noisy neighbours - by keeping star man quiet

Monty warns Jambos to expect a Hibs team transformed by January signings
Rocky Bushiri (right) aims to be smiling at full-time tomorrow night.Rocky Bushiri (right) aims to be smiling at full-time tomorrow night.
Rocky Bushiri (right) aims to be smiling at full-time tomorrow night.

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery has emphasised the need to keep Hearts match winner Lawrence Shankland quiet amid the noise and madness of Tynecastle tomorrow night. And he believes he’s presiding over a team transformed as his players look to avenge December’s heart-breaking 1-0 derby loss at Easter Road.

Montgomery, still stung by watching Shankland score an injury-time winner in that smash-and-grab victory for the Jambos, says it’s not tough to identify the biggest threat to his team, explaining: “They have good individuals – not just Lawrence Shankland. But he’s been a focal point for them, and the stats tell you that you have to keep him quiet. The defenders know that.

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"He's one of the best strikers in the league. There are plenty of games where he's been the difference between two teams - we know that. He's a quality player. Last time we kept him quiet until the 94th minute.

“They have one of the best strikers in the competition who I don’t think anyone can deny has been one of the most in form strikers in the league with his goals, and goals change games. And yes, he has got them a lot of points late on in games and by being clinical, and that’s what every team wants. Yes, he’s had a really good season. 

“There are some good strikers in this league, so what you can’t do is give any time and space in the box to players that can punish you. It’s about us, we always focus on ourselves but still give respect to the opposition.”

Hibs have undergone a complete overhaul since the last derby, with seven new faces arriving during the January window. Although Owen Bevan has since returned to Bournemouth due to injury.

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Comparing and contrasting his options for tomorrow’s game with the issues he faced towards the end of 2023, when injuries and international call-ups left him struggling for numbers, Monty said: “It is a different Hibs team. The fact is for a lot of the season we did not really have a big squad, we were hampered by a lot of injuries. Even when I came into the club, I think there were five long term injuries out from the first team and after that last game we lost a lot of players to international duty.

“Since everyone has come back and the January window, when we made seven signings and seven moved out, for sure it is a different proposition. I think we brought a lot of quality into the front third. You need to score goals to win games of football and that’s something we worked really hard to do.

“Backing from the football board and the Gordon family allowed me to make changes and it probably was quite drastic in terms of seven players – I don’t think there’s many teams who have brought seven players in and moved seven out, but I thought it was necessary. It has given us a real good chance to finish the season strongly.

“Emiliano Marcondes has come in and scored goals and so has Myziane Maolida. We were in a position to be a big club and attract good quality players by speaking to them about the club and the project and getting them to buy into it.

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“They will always take a couple of weeks to gel and get into full training and understand the league and their teammates, but I think you can see that now in the last couple of weeks that the quality of the players we have brought in means we have some real match winners.

“Myziane has scored for his national team against Ghana in front of 100,000 people. Marcondes scored the winner in the play-off final, the biggest game in English football in terms of promoting a team to the Premier League.

“I don’t need to tell them. They know all about it. When you walk the streets, you hear people talking about the derby, so you always learn how to deal with emotion – and there is a lot of emotion in it.

“But it’s a game of football, and what you can’t do is get carried away with that emotion. You saw that in the last two games, there’s been a lot of frantic periods but whenever it settles down you see both teams’ identity come into play. You can’t play frantic for 90 minutes.”

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Reflecting on his first derby, a 2-2 draw at Tynecastle marked by an Elie Youan double and a dramatic comeback, Montgomery said: “You learn a lot about the staff and the team, and what I learned was at Tynecastle we came back from 2-0 down, the first time the club has done that for four-and-a-half years. I learned a lot about the players’ character that night. In the derby at home, I don’t think we got the result our performance deserved. But now this is another opportunity, and we will go there full of confidence and hopefully continue this momentum.”

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