Hibs: James McPake ban not as tough as feared

James McPake (3rd right) is sent off by referee Willie Collum. Picture: SNS
James McPake (3rd right) is sent off by referee Willie Collum. Picture: SNS
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Hibs skipper James McPake has escaped an immediate two-match ban following his red card against Hearts thanks to a change in the SFA’s disciplinary rules, it was revealed today.

McPake got his marching orders from referee Willie Collum for a lunge at Jambos’ forward Callum Paterson as Pat Fenlon’s side crashed out of the League Cup, the quarter-final defeat at the hands of their Capital rivals prompting an angry protest from Hibs supporters against the manager after the match.

The big defender’s offence of “serious foul play” would, in the past, have led to him being suspended for his next two matches, which would have ruled him out of the Scottish Premiership clashes against Motherwell and Inverness. But while the 29-year-old will miss Sunday’s trip to Fir Park, he will be available for the visit of Caley Thistle next weekend, after the introduction of a new rule as to how such suspensions should be applied.

While McPake has still been hit with a two-game ban, the second part will be held over until next season’s League Cup. The authorities believe it is more equitable that a player sent off in such circumstances should serve part of his ban in that competition rather than miss two league games but be free to play in the cup, particularly in the latter stages, when a player who’d picked up two yellow cards would be automatically banned for the next round.

McPake, meanwhile, has apologised to fans for the rash challenge which has left Fenlon facing a defensive headache. Centre-back Michael Nelson is out with a fractured cheekbone, so youngster Jordon Forster is in line for his first league appearance of the season.

Subjected to abuse by some fans on Twitter with some calling for him never to play for the club again following his third red card in a green-and-white jersey, McPake replied: “All I can do is apologise to the Hibs fans for the red card. For the tweets regarding never wearing the jersey again, I take it all on board.

“If that’s the general opinion I will accept that. I won’t shy away from it. You all have the right to say what you feel, but believe me I’m hurting.”