Hibs v Alloa preview: Boyle to return, still some injuries, Vela to feature?

Hibs host Alloa in tomorrow's Betfred Cup Group C match at Easter Road. The Hibees and Wasps are well acquainted, having faced off numerous times in the Championship.

Friday, 19th July 2019, 12:36 pm
Fraser Murray - who scored the last time the two sides met - in action against Alloa at the Indodrill Stadium
Fraser Murray - who scored the last time the two sides met - in action against Alloa at the Indodrill Stadium

The Easter Road side will be looking to kickstart their League Cup campaign having drawn with Stirling Albion at Forthbank last weekend and winning on penalties for the bonus point.

Paul Heckingbottom has insisted he’ll be rotating his squad throughout Hibs’ Betfred Cup group matches and with the final three of them to take place over the course of just six days, it’s likely we’ll see different teams and, possibly, different formations in each of those games.

David Gray, Martin Boyle and Florian Kamberi were the notable absentees against Stirling Albion while Darren McGregor and Ofir Marciano were on the bench but all five can expect to be called upon as Alloa, Arbroath and Elgin City are faced in quick succession.

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Latest signing Josh Vela is unlikely to be pitched in straight away tomorrow and Heckingbottom continues to be without the injured Lewis Stevenson, Ryan Porteous and Vykintas Slivka.

Magic number

16 -the number of appearances Josh Campbell made for loan side Airdrie last season

Possible teams

Hibs: Maxwell; Whittaker, Jackson, Hanlon, James; Mallan, Campbell, Allan; Boyle, Doidge, Horgan. Subs from: Marciano, Sadiki, McGregor, Mackie, Stirling, Vela, F Murray, Newell, Kamberi, Shaw.

Alloa: Parry; Robertson, Graham, Taggart, Dick; Cawley, Hetherington, Flannigan, Brown; Buchanan, Trouten. Subs from: Henry, Stirling, O'Hara, Thomson, Aloulou.

Key battle

Kevin Cawley will look to make things happen on the right flank, so Tom James will need to be at his best to keep the veteran midfielder quiet. Elsewhere, former Hibs defender Scott Taggart will enjoy the tussle with Christian Doidge.

Lowdown on opponents

It’s been all change for Alloa over the summer with manager Jim Goodwin having returned to take charge of St Mirren, the Wasps replacing him with Peter Grant.

The former Celtic midfielder has experience of being boss, at Norwich and in a caretaker capacity at Fulham and of coaching at a host of clubs as well as being assistant to Alex McLeish in the Scotland set-up.

However, taking up his new role at the Indodrill Stadium will be an entirely new challenge for the 53-year-old, his new club being part-time and with the remit of ensuring they enjoy yet another season in the Championship.

Under Goodwin they survived, but only just, last season, staying out of the relegation zone by a single point which in itself was a creditable achievement.

Grant will, though, be able to count on experienced players such as striker Liam Buchanan and midfielders Kevin Cawley and Alan Trouten.

Back at Alloa for a second spell, 34-year-old Buchanan has more than 200 career goals to his name while Cawley has as many appearances for the club and the much-travelled Trouten is closing in on 400 first team games.

Coincidentally, all three were on target as Alloa kicked off their Betfred Cup campaign in midweek with a 3-3 draw at home to Elgin City and were denied a bonus point after losing the penalty shoot-out.

That match also saw Grant’s first signing, 20-year-old striker Kevin O’Hara, make his debut as a second-half substitute, and he’ll be pushing Buchanan and Trouten for a starting place.

Referee

Kevin Clancy is the man in the middle for this clash, assisted by Graham McNeillie and Chris Phillips.