Alan Stubbs believes only Hibs or Celtic can win treble

Alan Stubbs, left, who unveiled Anthony Stokes this week, is expected to give the striker his debut against St Mirren today. Picture: SNS
Alan Stubbs, left, who unveiled Anthony Stokes this week, is expected to give the striker his debut against St Mirren today. Picture: SNS
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Alan Stubbs can be excused some giddiness in the week he sealed the short-term recruitment of both Anthony Stokes and Kevin Thomson.

The Hibs manager believes there’s no reason why his re-strengthened side can’t target all three competitions in which they are still involved.

Knowing the support he was being promised by his board, he had anticipated a successful transfer window. But, Stubbs acknowledged yesterday, it has gone even better than he expected, with striker Chris Dagnall and Norwegian defender Niklas Gunnarsson also arriving earlier this month.

“I was always hopeful that we would do something a bit different, but even I am surprised by how different it was,” he said. “Anthony Stokes would have walked into any team.”

“We have done… fantastically,” he added.

Thomson’s signing, until the end of the season, was confirmed yesterday afternoon, prior to today’s home clash with St Mirren, when Stokes is expected to make his debut. They are timely acquisitions considering Hibs’ packed upcoming programme.

The countdown to their League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone at Tynecastle begins after this weekend, with Hibs then facing another two vital games the following week, against Morton in the league and Hearts in the Scottish Cup, back in Gorgie.

“There’s only probably Celtic and ourselves who have a realistic chance of winning everything – we are still in the Scottish Cup, still in the League Cup and we can still win promotion,” observed Stubbs. “And to be fair to Ross County, I don’t think they are going to win the league.

“That tells you where we are at. It is no mean feat to be in all the competitions come the end of January – we have an awful lot to play for.”

“I don’t want the headline to be we will win all three!” he cautioned. “But we are in them [all] so we are competitive. It is going to be very difficult against Celtic or Ross County [in the League Cup final] and we have to come through a really difficult game v St 
Johnstone.

“Then it’s Hearts at Tynecastle and it does not get any more difficult than that. But it is a brilliant tie. This is a brilliant and exciting three weeks coming up – in fact it is a brilliant and exciting four months. But this next three weeks, for me it does not get any better.”

Clearly Stubbs doesn’t want these words to return to haunt him in the way former Dundee United goalkeeper Rado Cierzniak’s view that his side were treble contenders, offered this time last year, eventually did.

While Hibs are one of only three clubs still in both major domestic cup competitions, Stubbs knows earning promotion, preferably as league champions, remains the 
priority.

“I have said all along we are a Premiership club playing in the Championship, but we have to get out of it first,” he said. “Until we do that then people can turn round and beg to differ. But we have certainly got a Premiership squad.”

This is particularly the case now such a proven goalscorer as Stokes is on board. The question many are asking is can he and Jason Cummings, scorer of 17 goals already this season, strike up a productive partnership?

“I must say that it’s not just Anthony and Jason,” countered Stubbs. “We have got other strikers here who are going to play their part and contribute. I understand why people think it’s them two straight away. I think that’s unfair on the other players.

“But he will certainly help Jason,” he added.

Thomson is someone else who can inspire his teammates now that his much-speculated return has been confirmed. Despite worries about fitness, Stubbs stressed Thomson, who has played for the club in two previous spells, was signed principally for what he can do on the park.

“Kevin comes in first and foremost to contribute on the pitch,” he said. “But in the background there will be some sort of coaching for him to keep him improving.

“He is halfway through his A licence so it is a good opportunity for him to learn and get a bit more experience working with the 15s and the 17s.

“He’s signed until the end of the season and then we will look at it again then. We will see how he evolves with his coaching. If he is doing well, that is another discussion.”