How Hibs could line up against St Johnstone with three changes mooted

Based on Lee Johnson’s comments in the immediate aftermath and the days after Hibs’ 6-1 defeat by Celtic, it would be easy to assume wholesale changes for tonight’s meeting with St Johnstone.

That would appear unlikely, as Johnson has form for avoiding making too many changes to his starting team. The Easter Road boss has made an average of 1.18 changes per cinch Premiership game to date, although the data is skewed somewhat by the four alterations made for the 2-2 draw with Rangers, and playing the same starting line-up for four consecutive matches before the trip to Glasgow.

Johnson explained that his changes for the trip to Celtic were shaped by a desire to focus on communication with an eye on the Parkhead ballboys and thus ten of his 11 starters were native English speakers. He will unlikely do the same against St Johnstone.

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Marijan Čabraja is likely to return to the team in place of Lewis Stevenson while Élie Youan’s first goal for Hibs should see him restored to the starting line-up, potentially in place of Harry McKirdy. Kyle Magennis will also be pushing for a start after having a hand in the goal at Celtic Park and the likely candidate making way for his return would appear to be Nohan Kenneh.

The smart money would be on Lee Johnson resisting the temptation to make wholesale changes to his team

It’s easy to forget that Kenneh is only 19 and playing his first season of senior football. He made way earlier in the season after a tough couple of matches and Johnson may return him to the bench to ease some of the pressure on him and take him out of the firing line, especially after his error led to James Forrest’s third goal last weekend.

That would be three changes with Čabraja, Magennis, and Youan coming in for Stevenson, Kenneh, and McKirdy. Rocky Bushiri or Will Fish could also step in in central defence if Paul Hanlon doesn’t recover from the knock he picked up during Tuesday’s open training session, or if Johnson opts to play a back three, while a late call will be made on Elias Melkersen.

However, the Hibs boss has so far only made significant changes if the game calls for it – and there would appear to be less call to pack the midfield against St Johnstone than there would be against Celtic or Rangers.

Possible starting team: Marshall; Cadden, Porteous, Hanlon, Čabraja; Campbell, Newell, Magennis, Boyle, Youan, Kukahrevych. Subs from: Schofield, Stevenson, Bushiri, Fish, Kenneh, Henderson, Mitchell, McKirdy, Tavares.