Neil Lennon has revealed Hibs’ Irn-Bru Cup tie against St Mirren next month is likely to be postponed, as four of the head coach’s players are expected to be away on international duty.
The fourth-round match is scheduled to take place at Easter Road on Saturday, October 8, but Scotland play their next World Cup qualifying match against Lithuania at Hampden later that day, with midfielder John McGinn set to be part of Gordon Strachan’s squad.
Scotland’s Under-21s wrap up their European Championship qualifying campaign away to Macedonia that day, top-scorer Jason Cummings having been a regular at that level.
Lennon also believes No.1 goalkeeper Ofir Marciano has a good chance of being recalled to Israel’s national squad now he is again playing regular first -team football having not been named for his country’s opening World Cup qualifier against Italy last month, while Otso Virtanen remains Finland’s first choice at Under-21 level despite having dropped down the pecking order at Easter Road with the arrivals of Ross Laidlaw and Marciano.
The Hibs boss said: “We could have four players away that weekend, so it is something we have to talk about. We’ll get today’s game against Ayr United out of the way and then discuss the situation, although it’s still three weeks away.
“I’d imagine that now Ofir is back playing he will be picked, so we’ll be trying to get some indication whether he will be involved or not. Obviously if both he and Otso were called up by their countries, we’d be left with just one goalkeeper which wouldn’t be ideal.”
Although the Irn-Bru Cup isn’t Hibs’ over-riding priority, Lennon insisted he’s as intent on winning it as any other competition. Having taken the opportunity to rest a clutch of first-team players in the previous round against Highland League outfit Turriff United – although McGinn, Cummings and Virtanen were all on international duty that weekend – Lennon wants to be able to field as strong a side as possible against fellow Championship club St Mirren.
He said: “We want to win everything we enter, it’s important to keep building momentum. We put out a strong enough squad to deal with Turriff, but St Mirren is a different game.”
Lennon believes the introduction of Irish teams Linfield and Crusaders along with Welsh clubs Bala Town and The New Saints has “added a little bit more interest” to the competition, adding: “We are in it and we want to go far.”
Meanwhile, Hibs kid Kane O’Conner has been named in the Scotland Under-16 squad for a friendly against France at Oriam on Tuesday, September 27.