PAT FENLON today insisted Falkirk won’t spring any surprises on him in tomorrow’s William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final as he has compiled a detailed dossier on Hibs’ First Division opponents.
The Easter Road boss revealed he was already keeping a close eye on the Bairns long before the semi-final draw pitched the two clubs against each other and, in the intervening period, he and his backroom staff have kept an even closer check on their opponents.
Hinting that he could raid the lower leagues for fresh talent at the end of the season, Fenlon said: “We have watched a lot of First Division games this season, including Falkirk.
“We have seen a lot of the teams becasue we feel there are a lot of really talented players. Obviously since the draw we have seen them and I have watched them a couple of times myself in the last while, so there’s a lot of information on them.” Invited to reveal which Falkirk players had caught his eye, Fenlon chose to keep their names to himself but added: “They have some really good, technically-gifted young players and obviously they have a good leader in [Darren] Dods at the back. With his experience, he organises the team really well and he has plenty of legs around him. They are a decent side and, if we go out and let them play, they will cause us problems.”
Fenlon, however, believes he has the players capable of taking Hibs to a second Scottish Cup final in successive years and is adamant they can handle being favourites for tomorrow’s lunchtime clash.
While acknowledging the sense of failure which descended on Easter Road after Hibs missed out on a top-six finish in the SPL, the manager is refusing to countenance any talk of falling short tomorrow. He said: “Early in the week the players were disappointed in relation to where we ended up, outside the top six. We worked tremendously hard to try to get ourselves there but we went on a bad run at a bad time and it has cost us. I am disappointed we are not in it, but we still have a lot to play for.
“We can finish at the top end of that table [the bottom six], we can get to a Cup final and maybe get to Europe. We have to embrace the fact we are favourites.
“We have some really good players, we have six or seven full internationalists in the squad, great experience as well and we have to make sure we make that count.
“Being favourites, or the fact people are making us
favourites, should not hinder anyone.
“We should enjoy it but the important things is to make sure we do not let the occasion pass us by or just think we have to turn up.”
When it was suggested to Fenlon that defeat tomorrow would leave Hibs with a long, dismal end to the season, he countered: “That’s a negative that I do not want to talk about, we are thinking of the positives.
“We want to get to the Cup final which would be a good way to finish the season, going right to the end with a Cup final to look forward to, although I am sure Falkirk are thinking the same.
“We enjoyed our run in the Cup last year and we have
enjoyed it again this season. We have had three rough games and if we get to the final I think we will have earned the right with the four matches we will have played.”