Stirling Albion v Hibs preview: Heckingbottom's injury worries, who starts in goals, 4-4-2 formation?
Hibs make the journey to Forthbank tomorrow to face Stirling Albion in the Betfred Cup, with as many as six players in line to make their debuts.
The Capital club also have a few injury worries, with seven first-team players all likely to miss the match. However, Paul Heckingbottom has a large enough squad to deal with the casualties, having signed
Stirling Albion finished fifth in League Two last season after an inauspicious start to the campaign, but the arrival of former Aberdeen and St Johnstone defender Kevin Rutkiewicz as the Binos' new manager helped to steady the ship. They finished 19 points adrift of Annan last year and will be hoping for a more memorable season this term.
The last two competitive matches between the two clubs - both Scottish Cup matches - have taken place at Forthbank, with Hibs winning the most recent tie 3-2, while Stirling recorded a memorable 2-1 win in February 1999 after taking Hibs to a replay following a 1-1 draw at Easter Road.
Hibs team news
Hibs could be without Martin Boyle, David Gray, Paul Hanlon, Ryan Porteous, Vykintas Slivka, Lewis Stevenson and Steven Whittaker, who are all nursing knocks, so six of the new signings could start, with academy graduate Sean Mackie in line to fill in for Stevenson at left-back. Boyle and Whittaker both took part in training at East Mains on Friday but may only manage a place on the bench at best. New defensive recruits Adam Jackson and Tom James are likely to start at centre-half and right-back respectively. On-loan Preston goalkeeper Chris Maxwell is expected to start in goals, while Joe Newell and Scott Allan will likely form two of the four-man midfield. Up front, Christian Doidge could partner Florian Kamberi if Heckingbottom opts for a 4-4-2 system.
Possible Hibs team
Chris Maxwell; Tom James, Darren McGregor, Sean Mackie; Daryl Horgan, Stevie Mallan, Scott Allan, Joe Newell; Christian Doidge, Florian Kamberi. Subs from: Ofir Marciano, Kos Sadiki, Steven Whittaker, Josh Doig, Ben Stirling, Josh Campbell, Fraser Murray, Martin Boyle, Oli Shaw.
Stirling Albion team news
Stirling have no injury worries of note, and could hand a debut to Gareth Rodger in defence, who joined from Edinburgh City last month.
Former Hibs youngsters Jordan McGregor and Josh Peters could also be involved for the hosts.
Possible Stirling Albion team
Cammy Binnie; Kyle Banner, Ross McGeachie, Gareth Rodger, James Creaney; Josh Peters, David Wilson, Kevin Nicoll, Dom Docherty, Paul Willis; Dylan Mackin. Subs from: Blair Currie, Jordan McGregor, Jordan Lowdon, Paul McLean, Cammy Thomson, Danny Jardine, Max Wright, Lewis Hawke.
6 - the number of possible debutants for Hibs.
Kyle Banner, Stirling's 19-year-old right-back, could have his hands full trying to stop Newell's forays up the left flank for Hibs. With two big strikers in Doidge and Kamberi, and Daryl Horgan on the opposite flank, Hibs' front four could give the hosts' rearguard a torrid time if they can find their rhythm early doors.
Greg Aitken takes charge of this Betfred Cup group game. He has refereed nine matches involving Hibs, the most recent a 1-1 draw at Easter Road with Livingston.