'What a way to ease into the league season': Journalists predictions for Hibs v St Mirren
Craig Fowler: Hibs weren't great in their Betfred Cup campaign, but it was also clear that manager Paul Heckingbottom wanted to use the competition as part of his pre-season preparations as he often changed the line up, even at goalkeeper. Now that the league season is starting we'll get to see his strongest XI in action. There's a little bit of trepidation among the support over a couple of the new signings, but this fixture should give them the perfect opportunity to get things off to a flier. St Mirren had only signed three players prior to this week despite losing a squad's worth in the summer. And though they've made two new additions, with another one or two possibly signed before Saturday's match, it's hardly ideal preparation. Prediction: Home win.
Patrick McPartlin: On reflection, Hibs' Betfred Cup group campaign was the ideal preparation for the league campaign. Unbeaten, three clean sheets, eight goals scored, one against and plenty of players given game time. Mission accomplished for Heckingbottom, who now faces the unenviable task of choosing a starting XI to face the Buddies. The good news for the head coach is that, no matter who he picks, they should all be capable of dealing with a St Mirren side who didn't set the heather alight during their own Betfred campaign and have lost one of their starting strikers for up to nine months. Prediction: Hibs win
Mark Atkinson: This is a really attractive opening match for Hibs. While I expect St Mirren to ultimately get better under Jim Goodwin, they are not in rude health right now: hideous Betfred Cup campaign, small squad, injuries to important players. Of course, Hibs have their own fitness issues - Martin Boyle’s second knee injury highlights how cruel this game can be - but Heckingbottom has enough depth in his squad to counter his loss and get off to a winning start. I’m looking forward to seeing who the head coach picks, as very few of his team are automatic starts, but regardless of the XI, Hibs should begin the 2019/20 league campaign with a win.
Anthony Brown: Hibs should win this game on the basis that they have better players and appear to be significantly further on in terms of building their squad for the season than St Mirren are. There are concerns about the overall strength of the Easter Road side’s attack, particularly in light of Martin Boyle’s injury, while full-backs Lewis Stevenson and David Gray will be missed, but the limitations of St Mirren should ensure those factors do not prove significant this weekend, with Scott Allan’s presence likely to ensure Hibs have a good element of control within the game. Prediction: Hibs 2 St Mirren 1
Joel Sked: What a way to ease into the league season. After playing lower league opposition in the Betfred Cup they all but continue that trait as they welcome the Buddies to Easter Road. It has been a disastrous summer for St Mirren. A new manager after a lot of uncertainty, out of the Betfred Cup and a very small squad with few goals, no left-back and question marks over the defence. Hibs may have hit with the Martin Boyle injury news but they will still have plenty to get their league campaign up and running. Hibs to win to nil.
Neil McGlade: Hibs fans would have been licking their lips when the 2019/2020 fixtures were released in June. St Mirren, a club who had just avoided the drop by the skin of their teeth, at home, is just what the doctor ordered for the big kick off. As the Hibees' Betfred Cup campaign rolled on, Heckingbottom's men got better by the week. The manager has been fair to his squad by giving them all a fair crack at the whip to prove they deserve to be in the starting XI when the Buddies pitch up in the Capital this weekend. Who gets the nod is a difficult one to predict. The injury setback suffered by Boyle has put a massive dent in Heckingbottom's plans but Hibs have enough in their armoury to get their league campaign off and running with a win. Saints are in complete disarray with limited options in a threadbare squad. Prediction: Hibs win.