Hibs make the short trip along the M8 to face Hamilton in the first leg of the Premiership play-off fixtures looking to end a disastrous run of recent form.
With just one victory in 19 games and scoring only three in the past ten, Terry Butcher’s men don’t have their problems to seek ahead of the crunch fixture.
Hibs will again be backed in great numbers with the club reporting under 100 tickets from their 2700 allocation remain available.
The visitors face a tough trip to Lanarkshire with Accies finishing runners up to Dundee in the Championship and the home side will look to make a flying start to the match to test the Hibees brittle confidence.
New Douglas Park is installed with a modern 4G artificial playing surface and Terry Butcher has prepared his men by utilising similar facilities at local senior club, Spartans.
The second leg of the tie will be played at Easter Road this Sunday and Hibs will be hoping for a positive outcome from the first leg to ensure they can seal their top flight status for next season.
Alan Maybury ‘It’s been a disappointing season, but we’ve got another opportunity to get the club out of the situation we’ve got ourselves in.
‘We’ve had chance after chance over the last couple of weeks and we’ve not taken them, but this is it now and we have to make sure we come out on top.
Terry Butcher ‘We`ve trained on Spartans` pitch in Edinburgh, which is a beautiful astroturf pitch and a lot of the players in our team have played at New Douglas Park anyway.
‘Good players can play on any surface and it is all about your first touch and getting the ball under control.
‘Hamilton play a very good style of football, they have some tricky players, they are solid and strong. They have a habit of winning matches and scoring lots of goals.
‘It probably does help because they play and train on there so they are well used to the surface but we will be well prepared.
‘I don`t think you can take your minds off the game when you look at the consequences. Every waking minute you are conscious of our situation.
‘What you try and do is give them the confidence and prepare them properly.
‘We have to disregard what has happened in the 38 game Premiership because that is gone, we can`t change that. Normally if you finish towards the bottom and you don`t get enough points you are down.
‘We`ve got a reprieve in terms of these two matches coming up and you certainly want to take advantage of that and make sure we do stay up.’
Hamilton Team News:
Accies have no major injuries ahead of the clash and are likely to field a similar side to that which defeated Falkirk 1-0 last weekend.
Player to watch: Jason Scotland
The 34 year old is back in his namesake country and will be determined to fire Hamilton back into the top flight.
Scotland bears a grudge against the visitors following a failed work permit application nine years ago which he views as punishment for scoring a Scottish Cup semi final winner against Wednesday’s opposition.
Despite regulations being adhered to at the time, Scotland was incensed there were four members of the tribunal panel with past or present Hibs connections.
Hibernian Team News:
Hibs welcome Kevin Thomson back from injury and the former Scotland international’s return will be a major boost for the Easter Road side.
Paul Heffernan made an unlikely return to action in the Premiership finale against Kilmarnock and is likely to retain his starting role.
Paul Hanlon will once again be missing from action.
Player to watch: Kevin Thomson
Thomson could be instrumental in pulling the strings if Hibs are to secure an elusive victory with the 28 year old now firmly back in Terry Butcher’s plans after an alleged falling out.
The creative midfielder is one of the few players to have emerged from the season with any credit and he can earn himself a new deal by leading Hibs to safety.
Match Facts & Stats
Derek Riordan’s return to Easter Road under the tenure of Mixu Paatelainen saw the prodigal son notch the first goal of his second spell in a 1-0 victory at New Douglas Park back in 2008.
Hibs quite simply cannot afford to lose this tie over the two legs.
Hamilton will be giving their all and will hope to rattle the visitors early doors.
This first leg will be an extremely close encounter – 1-1
Both sides meet again for the second leg of the Premiership play-off this Sunday with a 3:30pm kick off.