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  • New boys may hold the key

    After a pretty mixed bag of results and performances during their extensive pre season challenge matches and short lived participation in the Europa League, Hibs get down to the bread and butter stuff on Sunday with their opening SPL encounter against Motherwell at Fir Park where most of the players will be back on the ground where they forfeited a 6-2 lead in that incredible 6-6 draw back in May.

    Unlike their guests, Motherwell decided to minimise the number of pre season fixtures their first team took on as Craig Brown was only too aware that the lack of strength in depth in his squad meant any injuries would hit hard.


    Three wins against Brechin, Forfar and Ayr Utd set the Steelmen up nicely for their Europa League campaign and it is to their credit that they have fought their way through two qualifying rounds by defeating Icelandic and Norwegian opposition and now face one time conquerors of Hibs, Odense in a straight fight to see which club progresses to the group stages where they will hope that latest signing Esteban Casagolda will be able to showcase his talents. The 23 year old Spaniard has signed a one year deal and is almost certain to be in the line up to face Hibs on Sunday.

    For some years now Hibs have been rightly proud of their home grown talent with the latest batch including the likes of Paul Hanlon and David Wotherspoon but Motherwell can make a similar claim in bringing through the likes of Ross Forbes and Jamie Murphy. If involved on Sunday all four of those players could make a significant impact on the game but from a Hibs perspective I feel it will be one or two of the latest signings that will have key roles to play.

    The Motherwell attackers are pacy, particularly down their left hand side and so Michael Hart
    will need to be at his best if as expected heís selected to play at right back. Hart started his career at Aberdeen and was farmed out to Livingston before racking up over 100 appearances in the Donsí first team prior to his £100,000 sale to Preston North End in January 2008. Unlucky with injuries at Deepdale he left there to join Hibs this summer and much is expected of him by the Hibs support. To date weíve only really seen him mostly in friendlies and he does look a player if lacking a bit of pace and so heíll need to use all his experience to keep the likes of Murphy under control.

    Still to properly make his mark in the green and white of Hibernian is Dutchman Edwin De Graaf. The one time Feyenoord player who joined Hibs from NAC Breda arrived with a proven reputation as a box to box midfield goalscorer. So far heís looked pretty solid if not spectacular and itís from Sunday onwards that weíll see what heís made of as heíll be up against that old midfield warhorse Keith Lasley whoís the kind of player that doesnít take prisoners. Midfield is a key area and De Graaf will need to be on his toes for the full ninety minutes if Hibs are to take anything from the game.

    Of course De Graaf
    should be finding the Hibs method of play a bit of a dawdle if John Hughes goes with his so called ĎDutch Style.í I say if because that approach seems to have been abandoned for the home tie against Maribor and the friendly in Blackpool but given Yogiís recent interview with a Sunday newspaper he seems set to persist with the Dutch approach and it will be interesting to see how Craig Brown sets his side up to combat that.

    At the end of the day I think this could be a very close game and Iím going for a 1-1 prediction. Our goal, should we score it is likely to come from Derek Riordan whose Hibernian future seems in some doubt much to the consternation of many Hibs.net members. To lose him once was a mistake, to lose him twice would be sheer folly as whatever faults may be perceived in his game he is the most gifted footballer and goalscorer at our club. I love watching Riordan score goals and I particularly love the way his whole demeanour changes when the net bulges and causes him to transform from a grumpy wee devil to a kid thatís been let loose in a sweetie shop.

    Letís hope for a good game and an encouraging performance. As always Iíll attend the match feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension but one thingís for sure Iíll not be the only one!

    **Images courtesy of Alan Rennie \ Hibernian FC**
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. DaveF's Avatar
      DaveF -
      Good thoughts there JC. Sadly I won't make the game, but I'm fairly optimistic we can get something from it - Unless Smith decides to go off on one again
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