Terry Butcher today insisted a clash with free-scoring Celtic on Saturday should be savoured rather than feared – although he admitted the trip to Glasgow will present a “different test” to the first three games he’s had as Hibs boss.
Butcher remains unbeaten, having drawn with St Mirren and Partick and beating Ross County, but Neil Lennon’s side have been in rampant form recently, scoring 19 goals in their last four matches against Scottish opposition, culminating in a 7-0 hammering of Hearts and then a 5-0 demolition of Motherwell.
However, Butcher will urge his squad to remember the good times they’ve enjoyed at Celtic Park, revealing: “I asked some of the players who had won there and quite a few put their hands up, so that’s good. It’s always nice to have good memories, such as the wonderful goal Paul Cairney scored there last season.
“There’s nothing we can do about the goals they’ve scored in the games they have played. They’ve been asked to beat teams and they’ve done that particularly well, but it’s a really good test for us. That’s how we look at it.
“It is a different test to Partick Thistle and the other games we have played because they are the best team in Scotland.”
Celtic’s final Champions League match against Barcelona tomorrow night will preoccupy Lennon’s mind in the meantime, although the Nou Camp clash holds less significance than it might have done with the Hoops unable to qualify. Butcher’s focus, though, is entirely on Saturday, heartened by the perseverance his players showed in snatching an injury time equaliser against Partick.
He said: “I’m sure Celtic won’t get round to thinking about us until later in the week, but we’ve got a bit more time. It’s a game to look forward to, a fantastic stadium and terrific surface.
“I thought there were a lot of good things which came out of the weekend game. The players were disappointed not to win it, but we did not lose it and it was good to give the fans something to cheer about. Their goalkeeper had to work harder than Ben Williams at the other end and while it was not pretty, we know we will get better. We will improve.”
Butcher is hopeful of having Scott Robertson back, the midfielder missing against the Jags after failing a fitness test on the hamstring problem he’d picked up in the Scottish Cup win against Ross County the previous week.
The former Dundee United man had struck up a good partnership in the centre of midfield with Liam Craig and the Hibs boss said: “I was optimistic of having Scott for the Thistle game, but I’d rather he missed one match than four or five.”
Hibs Under-20s’ side face Ross County at the Engery Assets Arena in Livingston tonight. Kick-off is at 7pm.