Rowan Vine set for Hibs-Hearts derby debut

Rowan Vine played in both legs of Hibs' ill-fated tie against Malmo, but he was suspended for the first league game of the season against Motherwell. Picture: Getty
Rowan Vine played in both legs of Hibs' ill-fated tie against Malmo, but he was suspended for the first league game of the season against Motherwell. Picture: Getty
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Rowan Vine insists Sunday’s Edinburgh derby clash against Hearts is a “perfect” league debut as he prepares to make his Premiership bow for Hibs in the cauldron of Tynecastle.

The 30-year-old played in both legs of the capital club’s 9-0 demolition at the hands of Malmo in the Europa League but – much to his surprise – he was suspended for the domestic opener against Motherwell.

The striker was forced to watch the 1-0 defeat from the stand and says he has been counting down the hours until the clash with the Jambos in Gorgie.

And Vine intends to thrive in the rough and tumble derby-day experience.

“I wasn’t initially aware I was suspended for the first game of the season, so it was really disappointing to find that out,” he said

“I found out I was suspended from a couple of the boys. It was frustrating, as it was just a daft booking in my second-last game for St Johnstone which carried over, but then to have to watch us lose from the stands made it even tougher.

“I have been counting down to this game and, as the hours pass, I am getting more excited.

“I’m sure it will be an incredible atmosphere, a packed house at Tynecastle and a game where nobody is taking any prisoners. You have to stand up and be counted and it is the perfect game to come into and make an impact.

“Of course, in the past, people focused on the Old Firm match, but, with Rangers not being in the league, this is the highlight of the calendar.

“I have watched it on TV and it is intense. It is one of those games that, if you win, you will be ecstatic, if you lose you will be seriously down in the dumps.

“I have always enjoyed cup games and the feeling of ‘win or bust’ as you try to get to the next round. You get the same feeling in derbies. I played in Chelsea-QPR and a couple of Midlands derbies when I was at Birmingham, and it adds a little bit extra – I love a game that is built up as a battle.”

Hearts assistant manager Billy Brown stated this week that there is even more at stake in Sunday’s derby than normal, given Hearts’ 15-point deduction and Hibs miserable start to the campaign.

After just three games, Hibs manager Pat Fenlon is already under the microscope and, in the eyes of some fans, fighting for his job heading into this weekend.

However Vine is adamant the Hibees can handle the pressure. “There probably is some pressure, but this is a local derby and the pressure is always there,” he continued.

“I don’t think the way we have started the season will play any part in things.

“There is always pressure at a club like Hibs and we want to improve from the Cup final appearance and league finish last season.

“We have to hit the ground running and, obviously, we had a bad result against Motherwell. But those pressures are what you get used to as a player and it just adds spice.

“We are going there with a positive frame of mind looking to attack them.”

Meanwhile, Vine has seen the quality of Hibs trialist Paddy McCourt close-hand this week and would be delighted to see the mercurial Northern Irishman join the club.

The former Celtic man has been training at their East Mains base, and manager Pat Fenlon has been candid about his desire to bring the player to Easter Road.

Vine believes the presence of McCourt will inject some potent creativity into the Hibees starting 11.

He added: “When you have someone who is really comfortable with the ball at their feet and knows that they can beat players and break through the line, then you are always confident of getting on the end of chances.

“I’ve trained a couple of times with Paddy this week and I don’t think anyone would question his ability.

“Everyone knows he is an amazing talent and he has fitted in really well in training. I think he is a really good player and playing up close with him has only confirmed what I thought. Someone of his quality would be a great acquisition.”