Pat Fenlon today admitted he’s had to rethink his Scottish Cup final blueprint after Hibs SPL clash with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park was abandoned.
The Easter Road boss had drawn up a plan covering the three weeks leading up to the Hampden showdown with Celtic at the end of the month designed to both give key players a rest and others game time.
But now Fenlon and his players face a gruelling schedule of three games in six days, kicking off with Sunday’s derby against Hearts at Tynecastle and the rearranged match with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park next Wednesday (7.45pm) before completing their SPL schedule with a visit from relegated Dundee the following Saturday.
While in total agreement with the decision to abandon the weekend match against Kenny Shiels’ side as medics battled to save the life of Killie fan James Haswell after he collapsed with a suspected heart attack in the second half, Fenlon revealed he’d now have to rethink his plans ahead of the final.
He said: “We had a plan for the next three weeks giving players game time. We now have another game so maybe we’ll have a look at one or two more of the younger boys. That might be in our thoughts. We have three games in a short space of time so we’ll maybe utilise the squad a bit and give everybody an opportunity to play.”
A further consequence of the match in Ayrshire being abandoned is the fact Hibs will now go into the fifth and final derby of the season a point behind their Capital rivals, Hearts having leapfrogged them with a 3-0 win over St Mirren the day before.
Hibs do, of course, have a game in hand, but Fenlon insisted the change in league placings won’t alter his side’s approach as they travel to Gorgie intent on maintaining this season’s unbeaten record against the Jambos.
He said: “We are looking forward to it. We have a decent record against them this year and we want to continue that. It’s a great place to play, a good atmosphere. They had a good result at the weekend and I’m sure they will be up for it, but we want to keep our record against them going.”
Referee Willie Collum will take charge of the final and for the first time in Scottish football he will be supported by extra assistants behind each goal. Bobby Madden and John Beaton take those roles with Willie Conquer and Martin Cryans running the lines. Alan Mulvanny will act as fourth official.
Meanwhile, Hibs Under-20 side beat League and Cup double winners Celtic 2-1 at Firhill. Goals from Jay Doyle and Ross Caldwell inflicted a first defeat on the Hoops in 18 matches. The young Hibees wrap up their season when they face Celtic again at Easter Road tomorrow night (kick-off 7pm). Admission free.
There are a few places remaining for Hibs’ end of season dinner at Easter Road’s Forthview Suite on Sunday. To book call 0131 656 7073