Neil Lennon has admitted Saturday’s Scottish Cup clash with junior outfit Bonnyrigg Rose has “all the ingredients of a giant-killing”.
But while the Hibs boss revealed he “may look to his squad a little bit” as the Easter Road side begin their defence of the trophy at Tynecastle, he insisted he won’t be taking the threat posed by the reigning East Region Super League champions lightly.
He said: “We are the cup holders, we want to defend the trophy the best we can. It’s a tricky tie, I don’t know much about Bonnyrigg and it’s got all the ingredients of a giant-killing so we have to be very wary of the threat.”
Having said that, Lennon insisted his players will be going into the game on a high with victories over Falkirk, Dundee United and Dumbarton having eased them six points clear at the top of the Championship table with promotion the priority although, he agreed, he’d like to see his side embark on another lengthy Scottish Cup run.
Lennon used the Irn-Bru Cup tie against Highland League side Turriff United earlier in the season to give a number of younger players a taste of first-team action, a move which paid off with a 3-0 win.
Although he may do so again, Lennon’s options will be restricted by the fact David Gray is suspended, the Hibs captain picking up his second yellow card of last season’s competition – and with it an automatic one-match ban which carries over to this season – for his celebrations following his last-gasp winner against Rangers which ended the Easter Road club’s 114-year wait for the trophy.
Paul Hanlon will also be missing in Gorgie, the central defender rested for the 1-0 win at Dumbarton following a cortisone injection designed to ease a pelvic problem which has been troubling him for the past few weeks.
However, Lennon has also seen his squad strengthened by the return from injury of Fraser Fyvie and John McGinn. Fyvie made a surprise start against Dumbarton and left his manager taken aback as he lasted the entire 90 minutes despite a six-game absence caused by a groin tear, while Scotland internationalist McGinn got another 20 minutes under his belt following his ankle operation.
Lennon said: “We took a risk with Fraser, but he made a fantastic contribution. We thought he would get through maybe 55 minutes and then we’d bring on John, but Chris Humphrey felt his calf a little bit so we made that change.
“I might look to the squad a little bit on Saturday, but we won’t take Bonnyrigg lightly.”
• Hibs will face Celtic in the fifth round of the SFA Youth Cup at Ainslie Park on Sunday, January 22, kick-off 2pm. Admission will be £5 (adults), £3 (concessions) while under-16s go free.
The Hibs youngsters have already beaten Tynecastle, Dundee and Aberdeen to reach this stage.