Hibs appeal John McGinn red with Rangers in mind

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Hibs have lodged an appeal to have John McGinn’s red card against Falkirk downgraded to at least a yellow in a bid to ensure the midfielder is free to play against Rangers later this month.

McGinn’s 43rd-minute lunge on Mark Kerr, which prompted referee Kevin Clancy to quickly draw a red card from his pocket, was described as “one of those” by Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs after Saturday’s 1-1 draw. “Sometimes they are given, other times it is only a yellow card,” he added.

McGinn saw red in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Falkirk. Picture: SNS

McGinn saw red in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Falkirk. Picture: SNS

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But Hibs have nevertheless lodged an appeal to the Scottish Football Association, with the case set to be heard on Thursday. As it stands McGinn, one of Hibs’ players of the season so far, will miss this weekend’s home clash with Queen of the South as well as the crucial trip to face title rivals Rangers on 28 December. The Easter Road side currently trail Mark Warburton’s team by three points.

Paul Hanlon admitted it would be “a huge blow” if McGinn was to miss out on the game at Rangers, recalling how the midfielder’s high-energy performance against the Ibrox side in their last meeting in November outshone even his own winning goal.

Hanlon scored a crucial header that ensured Hibs cut the gap between them and leaders Rangers at the top of the league. But he accepts the game, which Hibs won 2-1, is still remembered chiefly for McGinn’s man-of-the-match display.

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It was from McGinn’s corner that Hanlon scored the winner with 17 minutes left and the midfielder was everywhere in a significant afternoon for the Easter Road side. Stubbs described McGinn as “a throwback to an old midfield player” after the clash and with the build-up to the next meeting between the teams expected to be intense, Hibs desperately want to rely on having McGinn available.

“You saw what he was like in the last game against Rangers,” said Hanlon yesterday. “Everyone still mentions that performance. I scored the winner but everyone still talks about John McGinn’s performance. He was great in that game, it was one of those performances that will stick with him.

“He bossed the whole game, his energy and drive that he brings to the squad is great. He will be a miss. I think we’ve appealed but we’ve got more than enough in the squad to cover for him.”

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With or without McGinn, and conscious there is an equally important game before to come first against Queen of the South, Hanlon is relishing the prospect of the trip to Ibrox.

“We’ve got big game at the weekend coming up, then we go to Ibrox. If we can do well in both of those games, it’s right on, isn’t it?” said the defender.

Falkirk’s Lee Miller, meanwhile, insists his side can go toe to toe with Rangers and Hibernian in the Championship title race.

The ex-Hearts, Aberdeen and Dundee United striker thought he had scored the winner at Easter Road on Saturday when he netted his fifth goal in three games with just six minutes left. But Hibs rescued a point with Martin Boyle’s equaliser in the second minute of injury-time to leave the Bairns six points behind Hibs and nine behind Rangers, who they host on Saturday.

Miller said: “We’re up there with Hibs and Rangers and we’re fighting for things. We’re rubbing shoulders with them and competing with them. Rangers drew as well, so it keeps us in about it and it keeps Hibs in about it. It’s tight and it’s a good league for the neutrals as well.”

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