Motherwell v Hibs preview: Omeonga to start, 4-2-3-1 formation, Bogdan fit?

Stephane Omeonga could make his Hibs debut at Fir Park. Picture: SNS Group
Stephane Omeonga could make his Hibs debut at Fir Park. Picture: SNS Group
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Hibs travel to Motherwell on Wednesday evening for the Easter Road side’s first Ladbrokes Premiership match after the winter shutdown.

The hosts are without five players while Hibs are likely to be missing six first-teamers through a combination of injury and international duty.

The two teams have only met once so far this season, with goals from midfielder Stevie Mallan, striker Oli Shaw and winger Martin Boyle handing Hibs a 3-0 win on the opening day of the season.

Boyle also scored the only goal the last time the two sides met at Fir Park, as Neil Lennon’s side returned to Edinburgh with the three points in October 2017.

Motherwell are just one place behind Hibs in the Ladbrokes Premiership table, but sit eight points adrift of their opponents - although Stephen Robinson’s side appear safe from the relegation battle.

Midfielder Stephane Omeonga could make his Hibs debut while playmaker Ryan Gauld is in line for his first league start after playing 70 minutes of the 4-0 Scottish Cup win over Elgin.

Goalkeeper Ofir Marciano is expected to start in goals after Adam Bogdan suffered concussion in a clash with Elgin striker Chris McLeish at the weekend.

New signings Ross McCormack and Gboly Ariyibi could both start in attack for the Steelmen, who are looking for just their third home league win of the campaign.

Injuries / suspensions / unavailable

Motherwell: Trevor Carson (leg), Chris Cadden (knee), Craig Tanner (knee), Christian Mbulu (eye), Liam Donnelly (calf).

Hibs: Thomas Agyepong (hamstring), Adam Bogdan (concussion), Martin Boyle (knee), Lewis Stevenson (hamstring), Jamie Maclaren, Mark Milligan (both international duty).

Possible teams

Motherwell (3-4-3): Gillespie; Aldred, Hartley, Dunne; Tait, McHugh, Frear, Turnbull; Ariyibi, McCormack, Johnson. Subs from: Ferguson, Taylor-Sinclair, Livingstone, Campbell, Bigirimana, Grimshaw, Hastie, Main, Gorrin, Sammon.

Hibs (4-2-3-1): Marciano; Whittaker, McGregor, Hanlon, Mackie; Bartley, Mallan; Slivka, Gauld, Horgan; Kamberi. Subs from: Dabrowski, Gray, Porteous, Nelom, Omeonga, F Murray, Block, Stirling, Gullan, Allan, Shaw,

Magic number - 18

The number of goals in the last five meetings at Fir Park - including 4-3 and 4-1 wins for Motherwell, and a 4-0 victory for Hibs.

Key battle

Ross McCormack will be eager to cause Hibs problems following his return to Fir Park and Paul Hanlon and Darren McGregor will have their hands full keeping the on-loan Aston Villa forward at bay.

Motherwell danger men

McCormack is a threat up top while the marauding Richard Tait could cause Hibs problems on the left side. Tom Aldred poses a threat in defence and from set-pieces, having scored twice in ‘Well’s 2-1 win over Hamilton in the Lanarkshire derby in late December.

Key stats

Motherwell have won just twice at home this season, against Dundee and Aberdeen. However, on both occasions they recorded clean sheets. They haven’t beaten the Easter Road outfit in any competition since November 2013, when a Stephen McManus goal gave ten-man ‘Well a 1-0 win over a Hibs side with Jimmy Nicholl in temporary charge following Pat Fenlon’s departure.

Referee

Bobby Madden is the man in the middle for tomorrow night’s tie, taking charge of his third Hibs match this season - his first being the season opener between the two sides at Easter Road.

It’s his 37th match in all competitions involving Hibs. Of the 22 games he has refereed in the Scottish top flight involving the Capital club, Neil Lennon’s side have won nine, drawn three and lost ten.

Madden is assisted by Andrew McWilliam and Graeme Leslie, with Barry Cook on fourth-official duties.