While Hibernian face the arduous collective task of trying to halt the Celtic juggernaut today, defender Lewis Stevenson is steeling himself for a battle against an individual he regards as the “hardest” to play against in the Premiership.
The left-back is likely to find himself going directly up against James Forrest, a winger arguably at the peak of his powers.
Scotland internationalist Forrest has notched 16 goals for club and country this season, including five in Scotland’s last two UEFA Nations League outings, and been credited with some 13 assists for Celtic.
Stevenson’s unassuming manner off the park, however, is the antithesis of his doggedness to deliver on it. The 30-year-old’s longevity at Hibs – he is in his 14th season with the Leith outfit – which includes working under and having to win over countless managers in the dugout, is down to the fact that any frailties in his game rarely come to light. However, Stevenson recognises Forrest’s ability to leave defenders chasing shadows “He’s [Forrest] been brilliant over the last few seasons,” said Stevenson, pictured. “He’s got a bit of everything and for the national team as well he’s been flying.
“If I do come up against him, I know I’m going to be in for a tough game. On paper, he’s probably your hardest player to play against.
“He’s very hard to mark. You can’t get too tight or he’ll spin in behind, and if you give him too much time he can go both ways. I don’t want to say I’ve done well against him in the past because that could change. You maybe need to double up on him or whatever. But they’ve got quality all around the pitch. It’s not just him you need to focus on.”
Although nothing is likely to compare to lifting the Scottish Cup in 2016, Stevenson acknowledges that last week’s defeat of Hamilton at the Hope Stadium was cherished. He added: “It’s the best I’ve felt after a game for ages, it almost felt like a cup win.
“It was something that we needed as a team, not just wanted.
“These games maybe get passed over when you look at the calendar, but it was a massive game for us and a massive three points.
“It’s not a nice feeling when you’re on a run like that. You feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. You keep looking and thinking, ‘where’s this win going to come from, how are we going to get it?’ But we stuck together.”