St Johnstone v Hibs: Match preview, likely line-ups, key battle

Paul Hanlon and Chris Kane compete for the ball during the last encounter between the sides at McDiarmid Park. Picture: SNS Group
Paul Hanlon and Chris Kane compete for the ball during the last encounter between the sides at McDiarmid Park. Picture: SNS Group
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Hibs travel to Perth today hoping to make it two wins out of two in the 2018/19 Scottish Premiership campaign.

Neil Lennon bolstered his squad with the capture of Daryl Horgan on a permanent deal from Preston, while Bournemouth loan signing Emerson Hyndman could also make his league debut after getting ten minutes against Molde on Thursday night.

Thomas Agyepong is still awaiting the completion of his paperwork and as such won’t play, while Darren McGregor and Ofir Marciano both miss out through injury.

Adam Bogdan could return if he has fully recovered from the hip injury that ruled him out of the Molde clash.

Lennon could look to rest some players ahead of the trip to Norway for the Europa League third qualifying round second leg against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, with Horgan ineligible for the European tie.

Jamie Maclaren is still working his way back to match fitness, with the Australian striker reckoning he’s at 90 per cent.

Tommy Wright has Richard Foster back from suspension but could be without up to five players.

Joe Shaughnessy (knee) and Brian Easton (groin) have resumed training but are short of match fitness while Mark Hurst (finger), Callum Hendry (ankle) and Chris Kane (Achilles) will all miss out.

Possible St Johnstone line-up: Clark; Foster, Kerr, Anderson, Comrie; Kennedy, Davidson, Wotherspoon, Wright; McMillan, Watt. Subs from: Mitchell, Gordon, Alston, McCann, McClean, Craig, Scougall.

Possible Hibs line-up: Laidlaw; Ambrose, Porteous, Hanlon; Bartley; Boyle, Mallan, Hyndman, Stevenson; Kamberi, Maclaren. Subs from: Dabrowski, Gray, Whittaker, Mackie, Slivka, S Martin, Murray, Swanson, Horgan, Shaw.

Referee: Willie Collum, assisted by Ralph Gordon and Michael Banks. Colin Steven is fourth official.

Kick-off: 3pm, McDiarmid Park

Key battle: Efe Ambrose will come up against former Celtic team mate Tony Watt and will know all about the striker’s strengths.

Key stats: St Johnstone are unbeaten in five Scottish Premiership matches against Hibs, while the Easter Road side have lost just one of their past five trips to McDiarmid Park.

Last time at McDiarmid Park: An early goal by Efe Ambrose put Hibs in the driving seat, even after losing goalkeeper Ofir Marciano to a straight red card for handling outside the box after just 14 minutes. Replacement ‘keeper Cammy Bell performed heroics at times to keep St Johnstone at bay but with a little over seven minutes remaining, Chris Kane netted a late equaliser for the home side.

What Neil Lennon said: “These games are coming thick and fast. It’s been a pretty tough ask on the players but they are handling it very, very well.

“St Johnstone are the only team we didn’t beat last year so we know they make life difficult for us. Tommy (Wright) is a very wily manager, very smart, very shrewd.

He’s had a difficult time because he’s lost a lot of good players and when that happens, it’s difficult to find replacements for them.

“But it’s very early season and he will be hell-bent on getting off the mark in the league. It’s a good game for us to get our teeth into.”

What Tommy Wright said: “Speaking to the boys, they are a big team.

“They came up and did well last year, have got some talented players - the boy (John) McGinn has just left and gone down to Villa.

“We know they will have quality but we have our own qualities and will be back at home for the first game, so we are trying to right the wrongs from Saturday and trying to get the win.”