Alan Stubbs insists Hibs have already shown Rangers enough respect and do not need to perform a guard of honour tonight when the Ibrox side visit Easter Road in their first league outing since becoming champions.
The Hibs head coach refused to confirm whether or not his players are going to line up as Rangers emerge from the tunnel, as many expected would be the case. But he strongly suggested they would not. Rangers afforded Hearts a guard of honour at Ibrox last season in the Tynecastle side’s second game since clinching the Championship title. Mark Warburton, the Rangers manager, said he and his players would “appreciate the gesture” if made from Hibs but it was “not a big issue”.
Ibrox midfielder Andy Halliday stated it was “up to Hibs.” He added: “I would like to think [they would] as obviously it’s been part and parcel of football for a long time.”
But Stubbs believes the tribute should only occur at the last home game, which, for Rangers, is this weekend against Alloa, when they will be presented with the trophy.
In any case, Stubbs stressed he had already shown plenty of respect by congratulating Warburton and assistant David Weir after they secured the title against Dumbarton.
Hibs had beaten Livingston 2-1 on the same night and Stubbs put aside personal disappointment at having missed out on automatic promotion to congratulate the Ibrox pair.
“We’re not going to be getting wrapped up in all that,” he said, when asked if Hibs were intending to give Rangers a guard of honour. “You’ll just have to wait and see. If you’re talking about honour, I was probably the first one to ring Mark and Davie right after the Dumbarton game. I can probably even tell you the time I rang them. It was half ten at night. I actually spoke to them both personally, didn’t want to just leave a voice mail.
“I wished them all the best, congratulated them, told them how well I thought they’d done this season. They’ve been the better team over the season. So I think that’s quite honourable.
“If you’re asking me, I’d say it would be better when you’re at home. Your last home game of the season, that’s where I’d want it. When I spoke to Mark he was thankful for the phone call, I was probably the last person he expected to hear from, Davie as well. I left a message for Davie saying: ‘Just ring me back when you get a chance, I don’t just want to leave a message on your phone.’ He did.”
Stubbs, meanwhile, confirmed goalkeeper Mark Oxley will make a return to the team tonight despite the weekend heroics of Conrad Logan in the Scottish Cup semi-final win over Dundee United.
The coach also revealed Farid El Alagui suffered a suspected grade one hamstring tear against United. “We will just have to see if we can try and get him fit again for the cup final if we possibly can,” said Stubbs.
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