'Degrading' to play Premier Sports Cup games so early, claims Hibs boss Lee Johnson

It may sound like sour grapes, given the past few days for those of a Hibernian persuasion, but Lee Johnson is no fan of the Premier Sports Cup being played so early on in the season.

The Easter Road boss has been largely consistent in his thoughts on the secondary domestic cup competition. It would be fair to say he has been ambivalent at best.

There are many ifs, buts, and maybes relating to Hibs’ brief stay in the League Cup this summer. Might they have fared better with a full squad and new signings to choose from? What if Elias Melkersen hadn’t hit the post at Falkirk, or Rocky Bushiri not mistakenly played against Morton?

Regardless of all that, Johnson is firm in his belief that the tournament deserves better – even if Hibs have performed reasonably well in it over the past few years.

"It doesn't make sense in my opinion, this competition, in terms of having it in this way,” he said in the aftermath of the draw and penalties defeat by Morton.

"It's almost degrading the competition, playing it so early.”

Hibs have six players out injured as things stand, with two of them – Jake Doyle-Hayes and Lewis Stevenson – picking up injuries during Premier Sports Cup games.

Johnson was forced to play right-back Chris Cadden on the left for the first half against Morton and Josh Campbell, a midfielder, at left-back in the second period.

Lee Johnson: no fan of the Premier Sports Cup being played so early

The suggestion is that there are too many games being played in a short space of time. It’s not unusual to see entire teams changed at half-time during summer friendly matches, and with nothing at stake the chance of injury is diminished.

"We're talking about playing every three days – in competitive fixtures where you can only make five subs – two and a half weeks into pre-season,” Johnson commented.

"I don't know; I'm new to this country in terms of management and I have to abide by everybody's rules.

"But if you're looking for players to stay fit and perform well, it's a competition that I reckon should be played after the first game of the league season in midweek, to be able to get the balance between pushing the lads to the extreme but also keeping the players fit and protecting them."

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