Wotherspoon has a Hibs double on his mind

HIBS kid David Wotherspoon today insisted Hampden was the one and only choice for tonight's SFA Youth Cup final.

While the massive stands of the national stadium will be sparsely populated by supporters of both the Easter Road outfit and Rangers, the crowd will still be much larger than the kids from both sides experience on a weekly basis.

And midfield star Wotherspoon believes the youngsters shouldn't be denied the thrill of fulfilling their dream of playing at Hampden.

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He said: "It's something every boy dreams of and something so few get to enjoy. We've worked hard to get to the final and the fact it is at Hampden will be a great boost for us all.

"Hopefully we'll all go on to enjoy successful careers in the game but even if we do there's no guarantee we'll ever get the chance to do so again so tonight will be special.

"Usually we play our game at training grounds in front of only a few spectators. I've played for Scotland against England at Rugby Park in the Victory Shield, but this will be a totally different experience with a bigger crowd than normal."

Hibs' Under-19 side have already enjoyed a special season having lifted the League title for the first time only five days ago and completing an unprecedented double would, Wotherspoon agreed, be regarded as a remarkable achievement.

He said: "We've been looking forward to this final for a long time and, yes, since we clinched the title last Friday the dream every night has been of going up those steps to lift the Cup."

Hibs took the title in dramatic style, striker Kurtis Byrne scoring just 30 seconds from time in their final League match against Motherwell to crush the hopes Rangers and Hearts, who had games in hand, nursed of pipping them at the post.

The youngsters would admit their performance at Fir Park wasn't their best but, Wotherspoon declared, they can now look forward to enjoying tonight's game.

The scorer of eight goals from the middle of the park said: "I wouldn't say the pressure is off but having won the League we can look on the Cup as a wee bonus. Friday was all about getting over the line, we knew the title was in our hands but was also there for us to throw away.

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"We told ourselves at half-time that a goal would eventually come and it did in the last minute. It was some way to finish the season, a brilliant feeling. Now we can relax tonight and play our own game."

While Hibs lost just two of their 22 League games – both of them away from home – they have yet to concede a goal in the Cup in a season which, Wotherspoon admitted, has already surpassed all expectations.

He said: "We knew at the start of the season we had a really good squad, one which we felt could beat most teams if we played well. But it wasn't until halfway through when we were still unbeaten that we started to think we had a good chance of winning.

"I think if we can manage to win just one more time tonight then it will not only be a great achievement for us and the club but something that will live in our memories throughout our careers.

"Even at youth level the likes of Celtic and Rangers almost take Leagues and Cups for granted so it is great for us to show we can more than match them."

Hibs will go into tonight's match with the comfort of knowing they have already beaten Rangers home and away this season, but for Wotherspoon the highlight so far was a victory over Kilmarnock. He said: "We were 1-0 down with ten minutes to go and struggling to create chances or to get a clean shot on goal but we pushed hard and scored twice. It was a great feeling and it is perhaps only now you realise the importance of that win.

"The pressure was on us, Rangers and Hearts had both won that weekend but we managed to pull through."

One of seven players who will move up to boss Mixu Paatelainen's squad next season, vindicating his decision to switch from Celtic to Hibs two years ago, Wotherspoon added: "I really enjoyed myself at Celtic, I feel I developed a lot and it was a good experience with Tommy Burns taking training a few times which was brilliant.

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"I was there from Under-12s to the start of Under-17s but I thought it would be better to come here for my own career as Hibs are renowned for bringing young players through."

Wotherspoon's opinion was vindicated within months of joining the Edinburgh club as he watched team-mate Paul Hanlon, pictured left, catapulted from the Under-19s to make his debut in Paatelainen's first match in charge of Hibs, a 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

He said: "Seeing that gives you that bit of confidence, the belief that you can make that step yourself. Paul deserved to move into the first team squad, he'd been so consistent.

"I'd only been here a few months when it happened and I knew I'd made the right decision. Hibs have brought youngsters through on a regular basis over the years and hopefully I can be one of them.

"It's been good this season for us to show them that there are more young players coming through but it is now up to us to show we have a bit of talent about us. I was delighted to be given a contract to join the first team squad and hopefully when we return after the summer I can work hard, prove myself and try to win myself a place in the squad."