Hibs v St Mirren preview: Five out for Hibs, St Mirren's striking woes, who starts in goal?
Hibs welcome St Mirren to Easter Road for the 2019/20 curtain-raiser having scored eight and conceded just one in their Betfred Cup group campaign.
The Hibees' last competitive result was a 2-0 win away to Elgin, but the result was overshadowed by another injury to Martin Boyle, sidelining the winger until early 2020. He is one of five absentees for the Capital club. Ryan Porteous, David Gray (both knee), Lewis Stevenson (calf) and Vykintas Slivka (hip) are all gaining fitness but will not be ready to face the Buddies at Easter Road. Porteous and Slivka made appearances against Newcastle during this week's friendly but aren't expected to be included in the matchday squad. One head-scratcher for head coach Paul Heckingbottom concerns the man between the sticks. Both Chris Maxwell and Ofir Marciano have impressed in pre-season and the League Cup and either 'keeper could get the nod to start on Saturday.
St Mirren have signed three players this week in Sam Foley, Ilkay Durmus and Sean McLoughlin - who all go into tomorrow's squad - but striker Cody Cooke suffered a potentially season-ending injury. Scans on the player's knee showed ligament damage worse than first feared and he will now sit out up to nine months of action.Jim Goodwin has been preparing for Saturday's match with just one recognised striker in Danny Mullen, although the arrival of former Spurs youngster Jonathan Obika should ease his worries. Whether or not Obika is involved remains to be seen.
7 - the number of new signings Hibs made over the summer.
Hibs: Maxwell; James, McGregor, Hanlon, Mackie; Vela; Mallan, Allan, Horgan; Doidge, Kamberi. Subs from: Maxwell, Doig, Jackson, Whittaker, Newell, Shaw, Gullan, F Murray, Stirling, Campbell.
St Mirren: Hladky; MacPherson, MacKenzie, Baird, P McGinn; Magennis, Foley, S McGinn, Djorkaeff; Andreu; Mullen. Subs from: Lyness, McLoughlin, Erhahon, Flynn, Tansey, Durmus, Glover, Breadner, Walker, Obika.
Danny Mullen and Tony Andreu will be tasked with threatening the Hibs goal tomorrow - Paul Hanlon and Darren McGergor will likely cope better with the Buddies pair than they did with Newcastle front two Joelinton and Migi Almiron.
Lowdown on opponents
St Mirren performed the footballing equivalent of the great escape last season, retaining their Premiership status following possibly the worst ever penalty shoot-out with Dundee United in the play-off final.Then manager Oran Kearney rightly earned all the plaudits, the Buddies having, at one point, endured a run of just one win in 18 matches, but Kearney fell out with the Paisley club over the summer and returned home to become boss of Coleraine once again.Fans favourite Jim Goodwin replaced him having performed his own Houdini act by keep part-time Alloa Athletic in the Championship, the Wasps avoiding the relegation danger zone by a single point.However, the early signs are that Goodwin will be up against it once more this season, St Mirren having already crashed out of the Betfred Cup, managing just one win – by a single goal at home to Edinburgh City – in the group stages.The alarm bells were ringing right from the stat, Saints finding themselves 3-0 down at home to Dunfermline in their opening game before recovering to lose 3-2. But in their three following matches against Edinburgh City, Albion Rovers and East Kilbride, they managed just that one goal, scored by Oan Djorkaeff, son of 1998 World Cup winner Youri.Goodwin will be desperate to add further new faces. Tony Andreu, who knows all about relegation battles from his time at Hamilton, a welcome arrival although Saints will have to rely heavily on the experience of the McGinn brothers, Stephen and Paul.St Mirren managed just 34 goals in their 38 Premiership matches last season but top scorer Simeon Jackson has left – he got six – which leaves Danny Mullen as their main threat.
Euan Anderson is the man in the middle for the season opener.