Hibs v Arbroath preview: Vela's debut, who starts in goal, 4-3-3 formation?

Hibs host Arbroath in tonight's Betfred Cup Group C match at Easter Road. The Hibees and the Smokies met just a few weeks ago at Gayfield in a pre-season friendly.

Tuesday, 23rd July 2019, 2:35 pm
Arbroath are the visitors to Easter Road tonight
Arbroath are the visitors to Easter Road tonight

The Capital club won their last Betfred Cup game against Alloa, but made heavy work of it against the Wasps - and the Red Lichties could provide another nervy evening for the hosts with seasoned performers such as Steven Doris, Bobby Linn and Gavin Swankie in the visitors' ranks.

Paul Heckingbottom is likely to shuffle his pack once more, although don't expect to see wholesale changes from the side that faced Alloa.

Florian Kamberi, having played just 45 minutes against Peter Grant's side, could be more involved this week while goalscorer Christian Doidge could drop to the bench. New signing Josh Vela will be hopeful of playing some part in the game but is likely to get a seat on the bench at most.

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Heckingbottom continues to be without the injured Lewis Stevenson, Ryan Porteous and Vykintas Slivka but Martin Boyle will likely continue his rehab with a start. Josh Campbell did his prospects no harm on his first Easter Road start and he could continue in the engine room alongside Stevie Mallan.

Magic number

190 - the number of appearances Josh Vela made for Bolton.

Possible teams

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

Arbroath: Gaston; Thomson, Wilson, O'Brien, Hamilton; McKenna, Whatley, Gold, McKenna; Swankie, Doris. Subs from: Jamieson, Kader, Sopence, Stewart, Murphy.

Key battle

Thomas O'Brien will have his hands full with Florian Kamberi, with the big Swiss striker eager to put in a good performance in green and white.

Lowdown on opponents

Arbroath boss Dick Campbell insisted in the immediate aftermath of his side’s narrow 3-2 win over Hibs at Gayfield Park at the beginning of this month would have no bearing at all on tonight’s Betfred Cup tie between the teams.

Campbell, of course, knows what he’s talking about, being a veteran of 32 years as a manager at seven clubs, where he’s overseen ten promotions and been in the dug-out for more than 1300 games.

There is a huge difference between a pre-season friendly and a competitive match but, nevertheless, the Red Lichties will no doubt approach Easter Road with a touch of optimism.

Not just because of that aforementioned win – two of Arbroath’s goals down to blunders by Hibs rookie goalkeeper Paddy Martin – but also down to the fact they defeated Hearts a few days earlier and a young Celtic XI afterwards.

A side buoyed by winning the League One title last season has carried that form into the Betfred Cup with a narrow win over Elgin City, followed by a thumping 6-1 victory over Stirling Albion.

Greig Spence, pictured, got two of those goals, with ex-Hibs midfielder David Gold also scoring a brace. Steven Doris, who got a couple against Hibs, is also a threat, the striker also netting in the games with Hearts and Elgin.

It’s not just about goals for Arbroath. They’ve proved pretty mean at the back, with former Morton goalkeeper Derek Gaston already proving a shrewd addition playing behind an experienced back-four comprising of former Hearts player Jason Thomson, Robert Wilson, Thomas O’Brien and Colin Hamilton.

There’s also plenty of know-how throughout the team, with veterans such as Bobby Linn having more than 550 first-team appearances to his name.

Referee

Bobby Madden takes charge of tonight's match.