ALAN STUBBS has insisted he has the squad to cope with Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Falkirk despite missing a number of key players.
David Gray, the club’s vice-captain and arguably their most consistent player this season, was ruled out of the Hampden showdown a fortnight ago after suffering a hamstring injury which could also see him struggle to make the play-offs.
Keith Watson and Martin Boyle, on loan from Dundee United and Dundee respectively, will also be missing, ineligible having turned out for their parent clubs earlier in the competition, Watson having scored United’s winner against Motherwell while Boyle featured in the Dens Park outfit’s victory over Aberdeen. However, Stubbs also has a question mark hanging over Dominique Malonga. The striker found himself being substituted by Franck Dja Djedje in the 2-0 derby win against Hearts, picking up a thigh problem only 19 minutes after he’d replaced Jason Cummings, scorer of the opening goal, and was seen limping heavily as he left Easter Road.
Head coach Stubbs, while hoping Malonga’s injury will not prove serious enough to keep him out at the weekend, admitted it will be much closer to kick-off before a decision is made on the hitman, who has scored 13 goals this season but only two since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations in February.
Stubbs said: “Dominique just felt his thigh tighten. We’ve had to give it time to settle down. We’ll monitor him but hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”
Scott Robertson sat out the derby after suffering a hamstring tweak in the midweek win over Dumbarton, the midfielder failing to reappear for the second half of that match but Stubbs was optimistic he’ll be ready for Falkirk. He said: “Scott didn’t strain his hamstring, it was tightness more than anything, but we managed to rest him and win the derby so hopefully he’ll be okay.”
Stubbs was, of course, well aware both Watson and Boyle were out, the pair having also been sidelined as Hibs cruised past Arbroath and Berwick Rangers in the previous two rounds but, he pointed out, Falkirk find themselves in the same situation with striker John Baird and midfielder Mark Kerr having both turned out for Queen of the South in their cup win over Brora Rangers in November. He said: “We have options as we’ve seen with the likes of Farid El Alagui and Jordon Forster coming back into the side in the last couple of matches so it’s nothing that’s going to affect us greatly.”