Hibs will have to combat a contingent of fired-up former players as they bid to extend their three-game winning streak in the Premiership on Saturday.
James Keatings, Scott Martin and Tom Taiwo are all likely to feature for Hamilton Accies against their old team at Easter Road this weekend. The Lanarkshire club’s management duo of Martin Canning and Guillaume Beuzelin are also both ex-Hibs players. Beuzelin, the Accies assistant, is hopeful the significance of playing at Easter Road will have a positive effect on a group of players who enjoyed their time at the club.
“I always like going back to Easter Road,” the Frenchman told the Evening News. “I had four good years as a player there so it’s always nice to be back at the stadium and see everybody. There’s a few of us going back – me, Martin, Tom, Keatsy and Scott. I’m sure they’ll all be up for the game, going back to Easter Road.”
Keatings was a popular player at Hibs but left at the start of last season to join Dundee United in search of more regular game time. After a difficult year at United, tarnished by a serious injury and a battle with depression, Keatings rejoined Hamilton a month ago. Following two substitute appearances in recent weeks, the 26-year-old is expected to feature prominently against his former club.
“Keatsy won the cup for Hibs so he will be looking forward to it,” said Beuzelin. “He is getting close to full fitness. He is not far away. He came on for the last half hour last weekend and his appetite is definitely there, which is good for us.”
Martin, the 21-year-old midfielder, has started Accies’ last three matches since leaving Hibs five weeks ago. “We’ve been delighted with him since he arrived,” said Beuzelin. “I knew him from my time as a coach at youth level at Hibs and I knew what type of character he was. He hasn’t changed. He’s full of enthusiasm and he’s here to learn. He’s buzzing just now, you can see he’s enjoying it and is happy to be here.”
Beuzelin expects his side to face a formidable test against his former club, who sit second in the Premiership after winning their past three league games. He has been impressed by the manner in which they have recovered from a difficult summer in which they lost their three main central midfielders.
“It will be a tough game because they are on a good run,” said Beuzelin. “They’ve brought in more quality. I have been impressed with the way they have turned it round because they lost the heart of their team. John McGinn, Dylan McGeouch and Scott Allan were three very influential players, but Mark Milligan and Stevie Mallan seem like good additions and Emerson Hyndman can be a good player as well. I don’t think their midfield is quite as good as it was but they are getting there. The fact they kept Florian Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren was a big thing as it shows things are good at Easter Road just now. I think they have a good chance of finishing in the top four again.”
Accies lost 2-0 at home to Dundee last weekend and have won only two of their seven league matches so far. “We’ve been a bit hot and cold, a bit up and down. Every year it is difficult for us to stay in the league but we need to find consistency in our performances if we are to achieve results. We have a lot of new players and we are still getting to know each other as a team but we have to compete and make it hard for Hibs. Anything we get on Saturday will be a bonus.”