No crisis at Hibs says David Marshall as he targets strong Norwich performance going into league opener

In a world without administrative errors and penalty shoot-out defeats by a lower-league club, Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall might have been looking forward to Sunday’s final pre-season friendly; a reunion with his first English club Norwich City.
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Instead, the veteran shot-stopper admits the Easter Road side will need to put in a strong performance against the Canaries in a bid to bounce back from their ignominious exit from the Premier Sports Cup after a 1-1 draw with Morton and subsequent loss in the shoot-out, and set themselves up well for the league opener against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

The No.1 left Celtic for a loan spell at Carrow Road in 2002, before penning a permanent deal and leaving the club after more than 100 games. His return to Scottish club football has, so far, been somewhat disheartening.

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"First and foremost in the cup you want a result. The first-half performance was poor and it was a disappointing night all round,” Marshall says of Wednesday’s encounter.

"It's the first time I've played in this cup competition this early in pre-season, we've got a lot of new players, and some who are still waiting for work permits.

"There are a number of things going on and in an ideal scenario we'd still be in pre-season, but we've got enough quality in the squad that we should be winning the group.

"That's what the main disappointment is, but I’m sure the performances will come once the team has gelled."

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Manager Lee Johnson has admitted his frustration at the length of time it is taking for work permits to come through – not just for Hibs, but for every club – and warned that it might be some time before fans see the Capital club at their best.

Marshall in pre-season action for HibsMarshall in pre-season action for Hibs
Marshall in pre-season action for Hibs

"The cup situation is disappointing but with a dose of realism, we've been together for less than a month, and we're still trying to find our best team,” Marshall adds.

"In a normal pre-season you're ramping things up and getting more minutes into people but we lost at Falkirk, and that put us in a position where we had to win games. Then the first half against Morton was nowhere near good enough.

"Norwich will be a step up but the big test is the Saturday after that at St Johnstone.

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"We've got a tough run coming up after that with Hearts and Rangers and away to Livingston so we'll just have to pick ourselves up.

Hibs No.1 David Marshall is keen to banish the feeling of disappointment after matchesHibs No.1 David Marshall is keen to banish the feeling of disappointment after matches
Hibs No.1 David Marshall is keen to banish the feeling of disappointment after matches

"Hopefully the work permits will have come through and those lads can get some minutes and the team will strengthen."

Rocky Bushiri’s appearance in the 1-1 draw with the Cappielow side when he should have been serving a one-game ban for picking up two bookings the previous three games led to Hibs being punished by the SPFL, and the Championship side awarded a 3-0 victory.

The decision confirmed an early exit from the competition and Marshall insists the team can have no complaints.

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"We don't want to be going out at this stage but there's no arguments from us,” he states.

"We lost to Falkirk, we didn't beat Morton at home so regardless of where we're at, it's not been good enough.

"The manager has been in the door less than a month, there were good performances earlier in pre-season and I think the second halves at Falkirk and against Morton were good performances.

"It's just disappointing but you probably won't see the best of this team until everyone's fit and available."

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Yet despite the early cup knock-out and defeat by a League One side and a desperate performance against a second-tier team that narrowly escaped the relegation play-off spot last season, Marshall dismisses talk of a disaster.

"It's not a crisis or anything, there are no issues, but it would be good to get everybody fit and on the pitch and raring to go on Sunday against Norwich,” he explains.

"We need a good performance, it'll be our last game here before Hearts. We need to go and work on the training pitch over the next few days.

"Football can change so quickly and if we can go to St Johnstone and win everything will look different."

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Hibs are a new-look team this season with Marshall one of 11 new faces brought in over the summer, but the ‘keeper insists the squad has to help those players unfamiliar with Scottish football to settle while also meeting the club’s targets on the pitch.

"Perhaps for the foreign lads and the boys coming in it will be a bit of a culture shock, but it's up to us to help them settle,” Marshall continues.

"There are big expectations here; you heard the fans, who understandably weren't happy; they will demand third place and that's the pressure we have to deal with.

"I'm not going to make excuses here. Morton and Falkirk are in the exact same boat, ultimately we had enough to win the group and it didn't happen.

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"The fans have had a tough year – changes in managers and things like that.

"Ultimately we should win the group, but the performances haven't been there. The fans want a reaction after what happened last season, and rightly so, and it's up to us to give them that."

Given his age and wealth of experience, Marshall has taken the armband in the games he has played so far – but insists he hasn’t given it a second thought.

"I haven't had any discussions but Paul Hanlon's been injured, Lewis Stevenson's been in and out as well so I don't know where the gaffer's at.

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"He maybe wants to have a pre-season at it and see what happens.

"I'm more than comfortable with the armband, it's not a problem for me.

"But Paul's the club captain here, and there's a lot of experienced lads who have done well here too.

"I'm still assuming Paul will be captain when he's fit."

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