Lee Johnson drops Hibs selection hint against Aston Villa as he speaks on fear factor
and live on Freeview channel 276
Unai Emery’s side come to Easter Road for Wednesday afternoon’s kick-off before hosting the Hibees at Villa Park a week on Thursday. The odds are stacked against the Capital club given the gulf in finances, with the English side forking out £85 million on two players this summer, but Johnson is keen for his charges to play above themselves as much as possible.
"I think fear helps you concentrate,” he said, previewing his 500th competitive game as a manager. “We’re preparing like we would for any team, whether that’s domestically or in Europe. But you’re also playing against top players and top athletes, and if you switch off you get punished. That’s why I talk about total concentration and focus. If we can do that we give ourselves a chance.”
The underdog tag perhaps suits Hibs, and at the same time they have a decent recent history of pulling something out of the bag in big games. Playing in front of a raucous capacity crowd will also have an impact, as will Johnson’s team selection.
“I’ve picked an athletic, physical team for the game, and that’s absolutely one of the most important factors in this. We’ve got to be able to cope with that added dynamic of athleticism that we wouldn’t normally go against week-in, week-out, he explained.
“Preparation is important, you get your confidence from that, but it’s the start, isn’t it? If you can start well and feel at home and in flow, these are good footballers and good footballers make good decisions, and when we’re playing well we make really good decisions and we carry our threats. These boys have to believe in themselves and each other, and every bit of influence that can aid them with that, and now I’m talking about the fanbase, gives us a big hand. I know they will because this is a big, big night for everyone. We’re sold out. This is what we want. We’re here on merit, we have earned this opportunity and what we don’t want to do is waste it.”