Strong Hibs team beaten by Newcastle - with one player conspicuous by his absence

A Hibs side lost 3-1 to a Newcastle United XI at the Magpies’ Darsley Park training centre on Wednesday afternoon.
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The encounter was billed as a development squad game but Lewis Miller, Marijan Čabraja, Rocky Bushiri, Ewan Henderson, Matthew Hoppe, and Jair Tavares all started while Mikey Devlin captained the side in his first appearance since joining the club in February. Hoppe’s first-half strike meant the teams went in at the break level, but the hosts scored twice in the second period to win the game 3-1. The Hibs development side recently defeated a Newcastle side 3-1 at HTC, before a 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough at the same venue.

Nearly all of the named substitutes from Saturday’s 2-1 cinch Premiership victory over St Mirren – apart from Josh Campbell, who was a 29th-minute injury replacement for Jake Doyle-Hayes – started on North Tyneside, with one notable exception.

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Harry McKirdy was an unused sub at the weekend but despite not featuring on Saturday he was left out of the trip south. The 26-year-old attracted criticism from some Hibs supporters over the weekend for his actions on social media, which included uploading a photo of a park bench late on Saturday night with the caption ‘Chels. Nina. Golf. Hibs,’ assumed to be a nod to the now infamous incident where Gareth Bale celebrated Wales’ qualification for Euro 2020 by posing behind a Welsh flag with the slogan ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order’.

Matthew Hoppe was on target for the Hibs development squad in their 3-1 defeat by NewcastleMatthew Hoppe was on target for the Hibs development squad in their 3-1 defeat by Newcastle
Matthew Hoppe was on target for the Hibs development squad in their 3-1 defeat by Newcastle

The words come from a 2019 radio interview given by former Real Madrid striker and sporting director Peđa Mijatovic, as Bale’s relationship with the Spaniards grew steadily more brittle, in which he claimed the impression he got from the former Southampton and Tottenham youngster was that his priorities were ‘Wales, golf, and Madrid in that order’. McKirdy has been an unused sub for Hibs’ last three matches – the 1-0 derby victory over Hearts, the 1-1 draw with St Johnstone, and Saturday’s game against the Buddies.

The club declined to comment when asked about the forward’s social media activity over the weekend. The post was taken down, but the former Swindon favourite’s absence from Wednesday’s squad may be more than coincidental given he was warned about his future conduct and reminded of his responsibilities in November in the aftermath of another social media incident.

Hibs: Johnson, Miller, Bushiri, Devlin, Čabraja, McAllister, J MacIntyre, Molotnikov, Henderson, Tavares, Hoppe. Subs: Owens, McClelland, Megwa, Aiken, Delferrière, O’Connor.

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