Hibernian: Ross unsurprised at McNulty ban

 

Hibernian manager Jack Ross was unsurprised at Marc McNulty’s two-match ban after the club accepted an SFA charge against the striker.

The on-loan Reading man was cited by the governing body’s compliance officer after stamping on the back of Hearts’ Sean Clare in the first half of Tuesday night’s Edinburgh Derby defeat at Easter Road.

With Hibs accepting the ban in time for the weekend, they will be without McNulty for tomorrow’s trip to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen, and against St Johnstone at home seven days later.

“I wasn’t even aware of the incident when I came to do my initial post-match interviews,” Ross said before the club accepted the ban.

“I don’t want to prejudice anything we do moving forward but when I say I’m not surprised that we’ve received a notice of complaint, I think that gives you my best indication of [his views on the incident] because the footage speaks for itself in that respect.

“You can’t get inside people’s heads, but football is a very emotive game and things happen in split seconds. But in terms of what the footage shows, it’s not great.

“If [a ban] is the outcome then it is a blow for us as we don’t have a plethora of striking options.”

With a gap now appearing in Hibs’ already thin forward line, there is a chance for young striker Jamie Gullan to make his first start for the club as Ross claimed he is now a legitimate first-team option.

The 20-year old scored his first senior goal for the Hibees in last week’s Scottish Cup quarter-final win against Inverness Caledonian Thistle and came on as a substitute against Hearts, but is yet to start a game for the club.

“He’s ready to start games,” Ross said of Gullan. “The only reason he hasn’t started is because we’ve been doing well in an attacking sense.

“He came on in difficult circumstances [against Hearts], I think we had just conceded the second goal, and I think with his first or second touch he put the ball out of the pitch.

“I look at things like that to see how players react to it, and he was good after that. He’s involved in our goal and he was bright in difficult circumstances.

“If and when he’s required, and the opportunity presents itself, I have no qualms about using him.”

Ross’ side will travel up north still without the services of midfielder Joe Newell, who hasn’t featured since an injury away to Kilmarnock last month.

Sports quiz of the week!

This week’s sports quiz looks at training ground bans, postponed matches and five-year plans.

Put your sporting knowledge to the test below!

 

 

BSC Glasgow: Inside the amateur team plotting to shock Hibs in the Scottish Cup

 

BSC Glasgow manager Stephen Swift says it would be the “biggest result in Scottish Cup history” if his Lowland League side were to defeat Hibernian on Sunday.

Hibs are huge favourites to win the fifth-round tie, and the pressure will be on the Edinburgh side to avoid embarrassment and reach the quarter-finals.

Swift has envisioned three outcomes from the game, acknowledging that a heavy defeat to Premiership opposition is more than possible, but says a win for his team would rank as the greatest in 148 years of Scottish Cup upsets.

“If Hibs go and wipe the floor with us we can look back and say that it was maybe a bridge too far,” Swift told EN4 News. “The other scenario is if we lose narrowly but the boys give a good account of ourselves, we can really be proud of them.

“But if the miracle did happen and we won, it would be the biggest result in Scottish Cup history.

“We’ve got the three scenarios there, but with any one of them we’ll be delighted with how we’ve equipped ourselves in this Scottish Cup run. There’s no pressure, [on us] and we will try to enjoy the game.”

BSC Glasgow, who were established in 2014, reached the fifth round of the competition for the first time in the club’s short history by defeating East Kilbride in the previous round.

(Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

But it was their third-round win over League One opponents East Fife that made headlines, as Swift’s men fought back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in stoppage time.

“That shows the belief within this group that they can actually be under that much adversity and come out with a win,” Swift said.

“However, we’ve got to have huge respect for Hibs; they’re four tiers above us in the leagues. But our players are under no pressure, and we’ll give it our best shot.”

There is no doubt that a win for the Glasgow outfit would eclipse other famous Scottish Cup shocks, such as Albion Rovers’ win over Motherwell in 2013, or Celtic’s defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2000.

Swift admits that he has faced sleepless nights thinking about how his side are going to achieve the impossible.

It is often tempting for a manager facing such unfavourable odds to surrender possession and play with 11 men behind the ball, but the boss is determined that his side play to their strengths.

“I’ve been up a couple of nights thinking about what I’m trying to do,” said Smith, who had a 16-year professional career playing for sides such as Cowdenbeath and Stranraer.

“I could easily set up and be extremely hard to beat, we will need to compact, organised and transition into our positions quickly, but one thing I don’t want to lose is our identity.

“I want us to give it a go, so it’s not a case of Hibs having wave after wave of attack. We’ve got to try and give a bit as well, I think that’s important and that’s the romance of the cup.

“If I went away and set up to not get beat heavily and we came away with a 2-0 defeat but never had a shot on goal, I’d probably be disappointed with myself, and I’d be doing a disservice to the players.”

One thing that BSC Glasgow will need if they are to take the game to Hibs is goals. The strike partnership of Thomas Collins and Thomas Orr has led to 31 goals so far this season and looks to be their biggest threat.

Collins, whose 17 goals this season make him the club’s top scorer, told EN4 News that he has been studying Sunday’s opponents and is confident of adding to his tally.

 

“Hibs are a strong side, but I watched them over the weekend and they’ve got weaknesses,” Collins said.

“Obviously they were playing another Premiership side but I believe we can create chances, and if I get a chance inside the box I feel positive that I can score a goal.”

On the tie, Collins added: “There’s a real buzz and excitement about the place. It’s a massive game for the club.

“Not only are we excited about the game, but there’s a belief that we can go and do something special.

“You’ve seen throughout the season that there’s a spirit within this team. We’ve come from behind or we can go ahead early and go and capitalise on those leads and see out games.

“So no matter how the game pans out on Sunday, we’ve got a great chance of getting a positive result.”

Kick-off is at 12pm on Sunday at Alloa Athletic’s Indodrill Stadium.

Hibs sign Paul McGinn from St Mirren while Hearts capture Marcel Langer on short-term deal

Hibernian have announced the signing of defender Paul McGinn from St Mirren, who joins on an 18-month contract.

Hibs boss Jack Ross has been in the market for a versatile defender after full-back Jason Naismith was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

He is the older brother of former Hibs favourite John, who won the Scottish Cup with the Leith club and subsequently earned a move to Aston Villa.

McGinn was previously signed for St Mirren on the same day that his new manager Jack Ross left for Sunderland.

He could make his first appearance against the same club he left, as the Paisley outfit travel to Easter Road on Saturday.

Hearts, meanwhile, have completed the signing of German midfielder Marcel Langer from Schalke 04.

The 22-year-old joins until the end of the season and is Hearts’ fourth January signing joining Donis Avdijaj, Toby Sibbick and Liam Boyce at the Tynecastle club.

Langer is a product of the Hannover 96 academy and joined Schalke in 2018, playing predominately for their second team in the Regionalliga, Germany’s fourth tier.

The defensive midfielder will look to fill the void left by long-term absentee Peter Haring at the base of their midfield.

Hibs showing great “intensity and drive” says Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom suffered his first defeat as Hibernian manager against Celtic last weekend (Credit: Luke Barry)

Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom has praised his side’s “intensity and drive” as they look to seal a sixth place spot in the Scottish Premiership.

Heckingbottom has won three of his first four games in charge at Easter Road, but lost to Celtic last weekend 2-0 in the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup.

Hibs face Rangers tonight in the league, and the manager admitted that Steven Gerrard’s side could have an advantage as they have a larger squad to work with.

“They’ve been good, hit a lot of form now [and] scoring goals,” Heckingbottom said.

“I can’t imagine Steven changing too much, but he does have the capabilities to do that if he wants with the squad he’s got and the players he’s got competing for each position but I don’t think there’ll be too much different in the set-up and how he approaches the game.

“We’re struggling with injuries and suspensions where we don’t have the personnel to rotate the squad without significantly weakening the team.”

Hibs are currently sixth in the league, three points behind neighbours Hearts but three points clear of St Johnstone.

Heckingbottom revealed that remaining in the top six is now the aim for the rest of the season.

He added: “That’s our focus [and]that’s what our focus has been.

“We’ve been chasing, and we said that before the last away game that all of a sudden we are now in the top six with teams chasing us, we earned the right to be in the driving seat if you like, get the sixth spot.

“The players fought and fought and fought and managed to pull away and get another three points, so it’s that sort of intensity and drive we want to have between now and the end of the season.

“You’ve got to fight for it, whoever does get in that top six will deserve it and we want to make sure that it’s us.”

Heckingbottom also praised the efforts his squad has made to adapt to his tactics, with everyone at the club “on the same page” and “searching for the same answers.”

He said: “The players have responded really well [to my way of working].

“We earned the right to be in the driving seat if you like, [to] get the sixth spot.”

“I spoke to them again in training and whatever ideas I have they’ll do it and when they’re trying and giving everything I back them 100%.

“We know we are in progress, we know where we are in the league in terms of standings, size of clubs, but we have to use that to our advantage and be a team that enjoys playing against the so-called bigger clubs, and also enjoying having the status of a big club ourselves when other teams come to town.

“So we know where we are, we’ve really enjoyed the start but we know we’ve got to keep improving.”

It all gets underway at Easter Road from 7:45pm and the match is live on BT Sport.

Stevenson reveals “excitement” at working under 10th Hibs boss

Lewis Stevenson

Lewis Stevenson has spent 14 years at the club (Credit: David Ronney)

Hibernian left-back Lewis Stevenson says it’s a clean slate for himself as he works under his 10th boss, Paul Heckingbottom, as he looks to impress his new manager.

The 31-year-old made his debut for the Edinburgh club in 2005 and is currently the longest serving player at the club.

However, he admitted he feels there is still the same nerves when a new boss is appointed.

He said: “Every time a new manager is appointed there is the same nerves and apprehension, and perhaps the same excitement as well. I have learnt something new from everyone who’s managed at Hibs, I don’t think it matters how old you are at all.

“With Paul coming all the way from England, of course the lads feel like they have a point to prove. But as soon as he came in it was clear he knew all about us so that helped put our minds at ease.”

The clubs perfect record under Heckingbottom came to an end in their quarter-final clash with Celtic at Easter Road on Saturday.

Stevenson spoke of the positives and negatives the side took from their defeat against the reigning champions.

He added: “There are things we did very well on Saturday and things we didn’t do so well, but we know what we need to focus on. If we can get rid of the negatives then that will stand us in good stead for the future.”

However, things are not about to get any easier for Easter Road side as they host Steven Gerrard’s Rangers on Friday night.

Lewis Stevenson

Hibernian were knocked out the Scottish Cup last weekend in a 2-0 home defeat to Celtic (Credit: David Ronney)

According to the veteran full back, the games against the bigger teams in Scotland are the ones he relishes most.

He said: “These are the games you really want to play in, when it’s a full house. Big crowds usually mean a higher tempo and a higher intensity of game. We’re a more physical side now and we’ll need all our stamina on Friday night.

“We’re looking at them as a team and we’re well aware how good a side they are from playing them at Ibrox earlier on in the season. But if we implement our game plan then we know we’ve got a very good chance to come away with all the points.”

Hibs are currently in sixth place, and only three points off rivals Hearts. With a European spot not yet out of sight, Stevenson spoke of the sides desire to push on and finish as high in the table as possible.

“We’re trying not to focus too much on how the table looks and just take each game that comes to us. We’ve got five games before the split and we’ll try to get three or four wins and see where that leaves us.”

Hibs will be different against returning Lennon says Heckingbottom

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Hibernian boss, Paul Heckingbottom said he’s looking forward to meet his predecessor. (Credit: Luke Barry)

Hibernian manager, Paul Heckingbottom believes there will be enough differences tactically for a level playing field upon Neil Lennon’s return to Easter Road.

Celtic take on the Edinburgh club this Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with new interim manager, Lennon.

The Northern Irishman left Hibs in January but made a surprise return to Scottish football earlier this week.

However, despite Lennon managing Hibs earlier this season, Heckingbottom said there won’t be a tactical advantage.

He said: “Well it is [his squad]. I’ve not signed a player.

“He is going to know the players but he’s not going to know what we ask them to do. For me it’s the same, for Neil [Lennon] is coming back somewhere he’s worked before which is always strange.

“It’ll different for Neil coming back to his old club which as I say is always a different sensation but for me nothing has changed.

“It’ll be nice to meet Neil [Lennon]. We’ve never met so it’ll be good to catch up after the game.”

It has been an eventful week for Celtic players and fans alike with the departure of Rodgers and his successor. But Heckingbottom insists it’ll be business as usual for the reigning Scottish Cup champions.

He added: “Obviously, Brendan [Rodgers] is gone. Big opportunity for Brendan and big opportunity for Neil now coming in as well. People just have to look forward.

 

“Celtic fans will be moving on now thinking about this trophy [Scottish Cup]. Football does that, everything is a big sensation one minute and then it just dies down and everyone gets on with it.”

The Hibees have won three out of three under new management with on-loan Reading player, Marc McNulty impressing the most. The Scotsman has scored six goals in four matches with his new club and his manager was impressed with his performances so far.

He said: “I’ve been really pleased with him.

“I can see him continually getting better because he’s not played much football and now he’s getting a run of games. He’s getting his fitness levels back up, his sharpness. We know he can score goals. I think he’ll be good for us between now and the end of the season.”

Hibernian vs Celtic: Scottish Cup Preview

Scottish Cup

Hibernian will be hoping to replicate the successful run in 2016 (Credit: David Ronney)

Hibernian welcome Scottish Cup reigning champions, Celtic to Easter Road this weekend, in what is shaping up to be a fascinating fixture following Neil Lennon’s appointment at the helm of the hoops.

Lennon left the Edinburgh club in Janurary and has made a swift return to Scottish football with Celtic only a month later.

The job of Celtic manager was vacated by Brendan Rodgers, who was tempted south to take over at Leicester City following the sacking of Claude Puel on Monday. This sacking was the start of the carousel of manager turnover this week.

Lennon will no doubt receive a mixed reception from the fans upon his return to Leith.

The Northern Irishman was in the dugout celebrating the last gasp winner against 10-man Hearts on Wednesday night that maintained his side’s eight-point lead at the top of the Premiership table ahead of Rangers in second place.

On the other hand, Hibs have enjoyed a good run of form under their new manager Paul Heckingbottom. The new boss has won three out of three since his arrival in mid February. This included an impressive win at St Johnstone on Wednesday night, with Marc McNulty grabbing the winner five minutes from time despite Hibernian going down to 10 men.

That win took them to within three points of fierce rivals Hearts who currently sit in fifth in the SPFL after a disappointing mid-season lull due a long string of injuries.

Heckingbottom will know beating Celtic will hand them a fantastic chance of silverware this season, which would be all too welcome considering their woes in the league this season.

Neil Lennon will be hoping to win a game at Easter Road, which incidentally is something his predecessor Brendan Rodgers never managed to do. A win is essential if the dream of the treble treble is to be kept alive.

The first match of the Scottish Cup weekend kicks off on Saturday at 5:15pm and is live on Premier Sports.

Scottish Cup for Hibs would mean ‘a lot’ says Omeonga

Omeonga and the Scottish Cup

Stephane Omeonga is yet to win a trophy in his short professional career (Credit: David Ronney)


Hibernian midfielder Stephane Omeonga has admitted he would love to win his first trophy with the club and replicate 2016’s Scottish Cup success.

The Edinburgh side welcome Celtic to Easter Road tomorrow night in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.

The Belgian midfielder is yet to win a trophy in his professional career and said it would mean “a lot” if the club managed to the reigning champions.

He said: “If I win this it will be the first ever in my career, so it’s a good challenge.

“Every football wants to win titles. I saw a video of the fans singing Sunshine on Leith and it was wonderful, so if we can give them that joy then it would be really good.”


Despite his desire to win a trophy, the 22-year-old insists the Edinburgh side are not getting ahead of themselves and instead are “fully focused” on tomorrow’s match.

He added: “We just think that Celtic are a good team and just focus on that.

“We just think about that game and the rest we will see after.”

Tomorrow marks the return of former Hibernian manager Neil Lennon to Easter Road since he departed the club last month. However, Omeonga doesn’t believe this will affect what happens on the pitch.

“I don’t think about it to be honest,” he said.

“The first thing that went into my head is, am I going to play again?”

“I just think that we are facing Celtic who are a good team and who the manager is on the bench I don’t know, I don’t think about it.”

Lennon was the man that brought Omeonga to Hibs, but the Belgian only worked with Lennon for “two days and 45 minutes.”

Omeonga admitted he was initially unsure how Lennon’s exit would affect his position at the club but is confident a new manager will benefit the rest of the team.

Stephane Omeonga

The Belgian midfielder eyes up potential silverware this season (Credit: Luke Barry)

“The first thing that went into my head is, am I going to play again? And then the club and the staff  gave me some confidence that the project is still the same and they still believe in me, and since then it’s been good.

“I think it [can be] good [to have a new manager], because you don’t have the time to settle down and think I’ve earned it. I think every footballer has to show [their best] every day and every game and when a new coach comes you have that energy to show again [what you can do].”

 

Hibs boss, Lennon calls on defensive and attacking recruitment before window closes

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Hibernian manager, Neil Lennon believes the club need to recruit more players before the end of the January window if they are to finish in the top six. (Photo credit: Hayden Barry)

Hibernian boss, Neil Lennon has called for recruitment at both ends of the park if the Edinburgh side are to finish in the top six by the end of the season.

The latest blow to the Hibees injury list was defender Ryan Porteous who has received a scan today on a potential long-term knee injury.

Lennon now believes the club need to resolve both their defensive and attacking issues this season by bringing in at least two players before the transfer window closes next week.

Porteous came off 28 minutes into Hibs’ 1-0 defeat to Motherwell at Fir Park. Lennon gave an update to the defender’s condition. He said: “He is getting scanned today so I am not sure how severe it is yet, but it didn’t look good after the game on Wednesday night. It is just another blow, coming into this month we’ve arguably lost our three best players of the first half of the season. Ryan, Martin Boyle – who is out for the rest of the season – and Efe Ambrose.”

Neil Lennon

Neil Lennon has been left frustrated by the number of injuries to his side this season. (Photo credit: David Ronney)

Lennon then turned his focus to bringing in players before the end of the month. He added: “With Efe [Ambrose] being away and now Ryan out it’ll depend on the length of his injury, but it is something we will maybe need to look in to.

“We need to get some players in to bolster what we have because we need an injection of freshness and quality. We are down to the barebones, we have five academy players in the squad of 18 so we only have 13 senior players currently available. We need to get some work done and start challenging for the top six.

“That’s what we are working on [buying a striker], and a wide player as well. We want to bring in at two players at the minimum between now and the end of January, I think that is essential. It is vitally important that a striker comes in because at the minute we have only two options in that position. Everyone is looking for strikers, but we need an injection of quality to help us up top.”

One positive the Hibs manager can certainly take from recent weeks is the impact made by playmaker Ryan Gauld who has already been influential in his second spell at the club.

Lennon hailed the new recruit. He said: “I was really pleased with him, he is playing well and he well definitely continue to bring quality to the team. In the two games he has played he’s been arguably our best player.”

Hibernian take on St Mirren on Sunday where they’ll be looking to bounce back and obtain their first win in the Premiership for the new year.

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