Alan Stubbs has admitted he can’t wait for Edinburgh derbies to again become a regular Premiership fixture rather than tomorrow’s one-off Scottish Cup clash between the Capital sides at Tynecastle.
And the fact the match is to be shown live on television to a nationwide audience is, he insisted, evidence of the appeal of such a match not just within Scotland but throughout the United Kingdom.
Pointing to the intense interest in the fifth-round tie as witnessed by the packed pre-match press conferences both he and Hearts boss Robbie Neilson have conducted in the build-up to the much-anticipated game, he said: “The fact it is live on Sky shows they see it as the tie of the round.
“I think that tells you everything about it. We want them to become regular fixtures. Hearts got themselves promoted last season and we want to get promoted this season. We want these games to become regular within the season again.
“Whenever you see a major broadcaster wanting the game, whether it be Sky or BT, that tells you there is a clamour for it nationwide, not just across Scotland.
“I’ve had a few people comment on how good our games have been against Rangers and how they are looking forward to matches. They have said they enjoyed them more than some Premier League games.
“They have a bit of everything, Obviously, the football is good, there is blood and thunder, there’s some old-fashioned challenges flying in, there’s a great atmosphere as there will be tomorrow.
“That all reverberats through the TV screens. I know we can’t wait for the game and I’m sure Robbie and the fans cannnot wait either.”
Stubbs conceded Hearts will be slight favourites – in his estimation receiving that tag by virtue of being at home just as he’d expect Hibs to be regarded as such were the game to be at Easter Road – and admitted the Gorgie outfit are stronger than last season but insisted his side has also strengthened.
Anticipating a “fantastic tie” between two teams in good form, Stubbs also claimed the physicality of Neilson’s players wasn’t of any great concern to him.
The Hibs head coach said: “Every team can be looked upon in their own style and their own way.
“I don’t necessarly believe Hearts have had results this season just because of their size and stature. They have good players.
“Yes, they have quite a lot of height in the team and it is something we have to be aware of. But they have good players in the team as well and I am focused on that more than anything else.
“You have to be able to win games in different ways. Hearts have got different attributes. It is not just a physical thing.
“They have some technically good players in the team too, and that’s why they are doing so well.” Tomorrow’s match comes at the end of big week for Hibs, clinching their place in the final of the League Cup at the expense of yet another Premiership side, the scalp of St Johnstone added to those of Aberdeen and Dundee United, and then securing a victory against Morton at Cappielow to keep their Championship title dream alive. While adamant last weekend’s win at Tynecastle will have no bearing tomorrow, Stubbs believes the Gorgie ground is one where, in his tenure as Easter Road boss, Hibs have performed with credit.
He said: “It is literally roles reversed this week because we’ll have one stand and Hearts will have three. But since I have been here we have gone there and performed. When we drew there I thought we played well and, even when we lost, there were moments in the game which contributed to the final outcome.
“Our head-to-heads are very similar during my time and that’s all I judge it on. They have been close games and I envisage this one being close.”