Hibs v Ayr: Team news and match preview

Marvin Bartley was wrongly dismissed the last time Hibs met Ayr at Easter Road. Pic: SNS
Marvin Bartley was wrongly dismissed the last time Hibs met Ayr at Easter Road. Pic: SNS
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Ayr United return to Easter Road on Saturday in the Championship for the first time since their shock 2-1 win over the Hibees in September.

Goals from Conrad Balatoni and Brian Gilmour were enough to provide Neil Lennon’s men with their only loss at home in the league this season, although the Capital side were ahead until the controversial dismissal of Marvin Bartley. That red card was later downgraded to a yellow card on appeal.

Hibs boss Lennon is without defender Paul Hanlon, who is due to have surgery this week in a bid to solve an ongoing pelvic problem. Winger Alex Harris remains out with a thigh injury, midfielder Danny Handling is still struggling for match fitness and goalkeeper Ofir Marciano is another week away from a first-team return, but midfielder Bartley returns from suspension.

Ayr manager Ian McCall may hand new winger Declan McDaid a start after joining on a free from Partick Thistle on deadline day. The Honest Men will be looking for their first win in 90 minutes since their 1-0 victory away to Brechin in the Scottish Cup in November and their first league victory since their 1-0 win at Somerset Park against Queen of the South.

Hibs could go 11 points clear at the top of the Championship if they win and Dundee United fail to secure a result against Raith Rovers later on Saturday.

Probable Hibs XI (4-2-3-1): Laidlaw; Gray, McGregor, Fontaine, Stevenson; Fyvie, Bartley; Humphrey, McGinn, Keatings; Cummings. Subs from: Gallacher, Forster, Crane, McGeouch, M Boyle, Graham, Holt.

Probable Ayr XI (4-4-1-1): Fleming; Devlin, Balatoni, McKenna, Meggatt; McDaid, Rose, Adams, Cairney; Harkins; Moore. Subs from: Hart, Forrest, Gilmour, Docherty, Nisbet, Crawford, P Boyle, McGuffie, Murphy, Wardrobe.

Referee: Crawford Allan.

Where and when: Easter Road, Saturday February 4, kick-off 3pm.