Hibs Joelle Murray will make presence felt if on bench for final

Joelle Murray
Joelle Murray
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Hibs Ladies captain Joelle Murray might not be leading her side out for tomorrow’s SWPL Cup final against Celtic but that won’t stop her from making her presence known on the touchline.

The 30-year-old Scotland internationalist has been limited to just two appearances in a green-and-white jersey this season having suffered a stress response tibia fracture whilst playing for the national team in the Cyprus Cup in March.

Her rehabilitation has taken longer than she had anticipated but she did manage 30 minutes for Chris Roberts’ side against Spartans Women six days ago.

Midfielder Rachael Small has taken on the captaincy role in the defender’s absence and Murray doesn’t expect that to change at Broadwood tomorrow afternoon.

“I may be the club captain but I certainly don’t expect to start every week and I’ve told Chris that,” she explained. “The girls have done fantastic so far this year so who am I to dictate saying ‘I need 60 minutes game time here and more minutes there’. It doesn’t work like that.

“I’m pretty good at using my experience and being pretty vocal even if I’m not on the pitch. So even though I haven’t been playing this season I think my presence has been there and that will be the same tomorrow if I start on the bench.

“The injury is getting better every week. I needed to rest to allow the bone and the tendon to calm down as I was just doing too much. The last few weeks I’ve been stepping things up so hopefully I get some more minutes under my belt tomorrow.

“It’s been a long and frustrating period but it’s been great to see how the girls have started the season. Other than the blip against Glasgow City in the league a couple of weeks ago, we’ve played really well.”

Hibs have beaten Celtic twice already in the league this season, their latest victory a 2-1 success at Lennoxtown on Tuesday night. However, Murray believes the onus is on the Capital side to take the game to their opponents given they are the holders of the trophy.

“We know Celtic’s qualities so we’re expecting a tight game but we have a great belief throughout our team,” she said. “We know on our day we can beat anyone. There hasn’t been much between the clubs in the previous two meetings this season but we want to pick up the first piece of silverware of the campaign. We are the holders after all.

“But I suppose when you look at the flip side of it Celtic haven’t won anything for quite a while so they’ll be hungry to do so. I know it’s a cliche but you can’t really compare league games to cup matches, especially a final. It’s a different ball game altogether.”

One player that definitely won’t be involved in Cumbernauld tomorrow but is still hoping to lend her support is winger Lizzie Arnot. The 21-year-old has just undergone surgery on her ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament having broke down during a training session with the Capital outfit last month. It has come as a devastating blow to Arnot who was almost certain to be included in the Scotland squad for this summer’s European Championships in the Netherlands, a tournament Murray is also expected to be involved in.

“It would be great if Lizzie could be there tomorrow,” Murray said. “She had her operation on Thursday and it all went well so she’s back home recovering. She’s hoping to be there so if we could win it for her then that would be great. It’s a horrible injury and especially for it to happen to someone like Lizzie given what’s ahead. But we’re a close-knit team so we’ll make sure she still feels involved.”