Hibs pair target Scott free glory

STEVEN WHITTAKER today insisted that Hibs have enough in their locker to overturn their one-goal deficit to InterToto opponents Odense - even without Scott Brown in their ranks.

Brown picked up his second booking of the tournament in the 1-0 defeat at Fionia Park on Saturday, landing him an automatic one-game ban which he will serve when the Danish side travel to Easter Road for the second leg this weekend. Losing Brown is a huge blow to Tony Mowbray's plans as the midfielder has been in impressive form since his return from a broken bone in his leg at the end of last season.

Whittaker admits that being without such a key player is disappointing but maintained that whoever comes into replace Brown will be determined to impress manager Tony Mowbray and that can only work in the Easter Road side's favour.

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He said: "Scott got a couple of bookings over the three games that we've played so far and it will be a big loss for us next weekend, but there are a lot of boys who can come in and do a job in there. Anyone who comes in will want to take their chance and impress the manager as well so I am sure we've got people capable of filling in."

Whittaker admitted that the temperature in both Latvia and Denmark had been a tough challenge for he and his team-mates in the last fortnight but he's hoping the Hibs supporters can help turn up the heat of a different kind on the Danes this weekend.

The two sides played in front of a crowd of less than 3,000 in Odense and the young defender says that the noise created by a full house at Easter Road could help swing the tie in Hibs' favour.

He added: "Obviously we wanted to keep it as close as possible coming over here and, with the fans behind us at Easter Road, hopefully we can stay tight at the back and get a few goals ourselves.

"We are still confident that we are in the tie.

"It would have been good to get the away goal. We had a couple of chances without actually managing to score but hopefully we can put that right next weekend.

"There was a good 12,000 at the game at Easter Road for the game against the Latvians so hopefully there will be even more for this one.

"If we weren't in the InterToto Cup we would be playing friendly matches but these are really competitive games and I think they've really helped us in terms of preparing for the SPL campaign. It has been really good to be involved in something like this, it's just disappointing to lose the first leg. Hopefully we can put that right next weekend."

Meanwhile a frustrated Rob Jones left Fionia Park vowing to work on the goalscoring side of his game in training this week after passing up a gilt-edged chance to level the scores with 20 minutes remaining.

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The big defender almost breached the Odense goal with a header as time ticked away, only for OB keeper Arek Onyszko to show a good pair of hands to block it and the beanpole defender is determined to put that right this weekend. He said: "I've missed a couple of silly ones really and I think I'm going to have to do a bit of work during the week in training to sort that out. One was close but I missed far too many I'm afraid.

"There's quality all over the park and the delivery over in Denmark was really good but, personally, I am really disappointed that I didn't get a goal from it so I'm a bit down at the moment.

"I don't set a target in terms of how many I want to score in a season but I know that I could have had two against Odense and I'm really disappointed that I didn't get on the scoresheet.

"I got four last year but I haven't scored since Christmas and I've got to do something about that. Hopefully the work that I do this week in training will pay off at the weekend.

"As a team I think we had enough chances to win it but we didn't take them, I've had at least two and definitely should've taken one of them and we have to sort it out, but it is not all doom and gloom. It's only 1-0 with a dubious penalty and we will be up and ready for it next weekend.

"We can play a lot better than that and especially at home when we have a great support behind us, hopefully that will make a big difference.

"I think they will find it difficult to come to our place. Yes, they've got the one-goal lead but we've been playing well and scoring goals at home - as we showed against Dinaburg in the last round."

The goal that separated the two sides came from the spot, Chris Sorenson firing home after Morten Fevang tumbled in the box under a challenge from David Murphy but Jones concurred with most people inside the park that the decision by referee Phillipp Kalt to award a penalty had been the wrong one, adding: "I was a long way away from David but, from where I was, even I could see that was a great tackle and that it was a good bit of defending.

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"You could see by the linesman's reaction he didn't give it, he didn't think it was a penalty. The referee was not as close as the linesman so he should have had a better idea. David was upset, he said he won the ball and all of the boys agreed with him. I think everyone in the park saw it apart from the referee."

The former Grimsby defender is positive that the tie is far from over despite losing the first leg and believes they can make it through to the UEFA qualifiers, despite the fact that they will have to do without the influential Brown in the middle of the park: "It's a massive disappointment that we won't have Scott for the second leg because he is a great player.

"His enthusiasm and drive is infectious to the rest of the side to be honest. When he gets the ball people just anticipate good things from him. He played really well against Odense and showed a lot of good touches.

"I have only played three games but I can see what he brings to the side but, at the same time, it gives someone else a chance. These days it is a squad game and it's not just about the first eleven any more, it is about everyone in the pool. Hopefully whoever comes in can do a good job."