Posts Tagged ‘ Inverness Caledonian ’

Fenlon To Prepare Team For Final With Dublin Trip

Pat Fenlon will bring his players to Dublin next week as a change of routine ahead of the Cup Final.  The squad will fly over on Sunday and stay for three days, whilst training at Fenlon’s first club, Tolka Rovers.

The former Bohs boss realises that Edinburgh will be ‘mayhem’ in the run up to the game, and is keen to shield the players from the attention of fans and media.

“I just think, because of all the stuff that goes with this game, it will be nice to just get them away,” Fenlon said at East Mains yesterday. “It would have been better to get to a bit of sun; but it’s ideal to get away from everything that goes with the cup final.

“The fact that we’re playing Hearts has added fuel to the fire, and I think there’s going to be mayhem here next week. To get away from that, concentrate and pick the team without distractions, work on the shape; that has to be good.

“We’re going to train at Tolka Rovers, actually a club I started my whole career at as a six or seven-year-old. We’re going to use their great facilities. We’ll be based in Portmarnock and travel to Tolka Rovers, not far from where I was brought up.

“I don’t know whether I’ll get home, it’s all business, trying to avoid distractions, and work on what needs worked on.

“Come next Saturday, we want to have done as much as we can to have prepared for the game. I hope to pick the team early enough in the week, so we can give everybody an opportunity to understand how we want to play.

“We had a couple of options – one to go further afield. But with flight delays etcetera you don’t want too much upset. Dublin is just across the way; doesn’t take long. There is no change of language, no change of food.

“We were going to try to train at Malahide, but the national team are going there next week. Tolka Rovers is a club I know well: they’re good people, and it’s a fantastic facility.

“It might have been difficult to stay here and treat it as just another game, on the basis that everyone knows what the cup final is, what it means for Hibs. We could train here without a problem. But what happens when they leave here?

“You want to let them focus, not worry about people looking for this, that and the other off them. Their only thoughts should be how we’re going to play, how we’re going to win the game. We’re back Wednesday afternoon, go away Friday after training, so they don’t have much time at home. It’s about making sure their heads are where they should be and that, come Saturday, we play the game; we don’t play the occasion before the game.

“Sometimes players can think too much about how they’re going to affect the game, what they’re going to do. If you’re here for a week with everything going on, that adds to it.

“Getting away lets them refocus on work. Training will be straightforward. It’s more just working on shape, how we’re going to play.”

Before that however, Hibs end this campaign with an away fixture against Inverness Caledonian at the Tullochs Caledonian Stadium, their third visit to the ground this season. Both previous visits ended in wins, and Fenlon is hoping that run continues.

First team regulars James McPake (cold), Tom Soares (Achilles), Pa Kujabi (hamstring) and Jorge Claros (foot) are all unlikely to be risked in the Highlands but Fenlon assured supporters that the team would aiming for the three points.

He said: “There are two or three of them in there at the moment carrying little niggles and knocks so we will plan to change one or two of them around.

“We want to go and try and win the game as well, so it’s important that we put a team out that’s capable of getting a result up there. There will be players who play who will also play in the final, that’s for sure.”

Teenage keeper Paul Grant is expected to make his debut in goals whilst midfielder Sam Stanton is likely to make his first start for the club.

More Injury Problems for Fenlon Ahead of Aberdeen Clash

Pat Fenlon has been dealt another blow in the fight against relegation with the news that influential skipper James McPake missed training with a groin injury which makes him a major doubt for tonight’s crucial fixture against Aberdeen.

Rumours spread throughout the city to the effect that McPake would be out for the rest of the season, but the on-loan Coventry City star was quick to quash the speculation on Twitter where he revealed that although  he is doubtful for the Pittodrie trip, he hopes to be fit for the crucial relegation battle Dunfermline game next Monday.

Fenlon is also sweating on the fitness of top goal-scorer Garry O’Connor who missed Sunday’s defeat at St Mirren through illness. The Scotland international striker has scored 15 times since his summer move from Birmingham City, and his presence would be a major boost for the club who have seen their seven point lead over Dunfermline evaporate to three in the past fortnight.

Speaking on Hibs TV ahead of the Aberdeen fixture, Fenlon said: “Garry had been sick for a couple of days but I do not know if he will be ready for Wednesday. We could do with him being fit. We’ll check on him today but we’ll have to wait and see. James McPake didn’t do too much today due to a groin problem. So again we will see how he is tomorrow.

“Danny Galbraith is out for the rest of the season and will undergo an exploratory operation later this week and Lewis Stevenson is suspended.

“But everyone else is fit and available for the match. One or two players will get an opportunity to play and it’s like with everything they will need to take that chance.

“There are a lot of big games left to play and they’ve got to try to get into the team. We need to be more clinical in front of goal and also better defensively. It’s sometimes difficult after losing a game to retain your belief, but there were a lot of positives we can take from both the Kilmarnock and St Mirren games.

We’ve got to make sure we go to Pittodrie and win the game. We’ve played Aberdeen three times since I’ve been here and there has been very little in all of those games. We need to be as good as we were and also get the rub of the green.

“I was disappointed with the result against St Mirren, but pleased with the performance, I thought we did enough to win the game, it was a bit like last week, our goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make.”

Pars boss Jim Jeffries claims that Hibs are favourites to beat the drop despite recent form, which saw his team come back from 4-2 down to snatch a late point against St Mirren then comprehensively beat Aberdeen to give the fans their first home victory of the season. Dunfermline take on Inverness Caledonian at the Tullochs Caledonian Stadium tonight, but whatever the result is up north, the stage is set for a massive game between the relegation candidates at Easter Road next Monday which could decide the fate of both clubs for next season.

Meanwhile, a young Hibs team won the East of Scotland Shield after defeating Hearts on penalties.

Hearts win helps Hibs in relegation battle

It’s not every day that the green half of Edinburgh celebrates a Hearts victory, but there were extenuating circumstances at East End Park yesterday. With the Gorgie men fielding a weakened team ahead of next week’s semi-final against newly crowned champions Celtic, many Hibs fans feared the worst, but the Jim Jefferies factor failed to take effect, and despite a late rally, the Pars lost 2-1.

Yesterday’s result leaves Hibs knowing that victory today against Euro hopefuls Motherwell could be enough to, all but guarantee SPL status next season. Manager Pat Fenlon is taking nothing for granted however and wants to see his players continue with the belief they showed last weekend against Inverness, and not let their minds wander to next week’s semi-final against Aberdeen.

Fenlon told Hibs TV: “Since I’ve been here, we’ve had a game abandoned and lost 4-3 against Motherwell, so it’s been eventful– that’s for certain. But in both games we haven’t had the rub of the green, so maybe we’re due a little bit of fortune. Maybe it will be a case of third time lucky when we play them on Sunday. But we’re going to have to play well. They are a decent side – their league position tells you that and they’ve had a fantastic season. I’m sure they will want to continue that and get a European spot and put pressure on Rangers for second. It is going to be tough, but we’re looking forward to it and we will be aiming to carry the belief that we showed last week up at Inverness into the game.

“To me, tomorrow is a much bigger game than next week. The three points tomorrow are massive for us at this stage of the season and it’s really important that we get the win. Whatever happens the following week will happen.

“If we can get to the cup final it will be a massive plus for everyone involved with the club in every way, financially and for the players and supporters, but making sure we pick up league points is really where it’s at for us right now.”

Fellow Dubliner Matt Doherty is desperate to make amends for his last performance against the Steelmen earlier in the season at Fir Park. The on-loan full back said: We played against them away from home earlier in the season and that was a different experience altogether. We were a goal up in the first half and probably finding it relatively easy at the point, but then it just exploded in the second half.

“We ended up losing the match 4-3, and if it hadn’t been for my mistakes we probably would have won the game. I had a bit of a nightmare and we conceded two penalties because of it. But we’ve got to take the positives and the fact that we managed to score three goals against them should give us some encouragement going into Sunday in any case.

“Motherwell are a good team and they’re fighting for second place, never mind third in the league, so we know how difficult it will be.

“I got back into the team in the last couple of weeks, and it is obviously more enjoyable when you’re involved, rather than sitting on the side-lines waiting for your chance. But it’s a great place to be involved. The rest of the lads are great and it is always a pleasure to go into training.

“I have played centre back for Hibs and then I was moved to right-back, which is my main position. Now that I have been involved there I want to stay in the right-back slot and hopefully I will get a chance to do that”.

Doherty, who never played a competitive game for Bohemians before impressing Mick McCarthy in a pre-season friendly against Wolves, has been quick to praise his new team mates despite the negative reporting in the press. “Everyone in there is pretty confident in how they feel and what they want; there’s no group of people looking down on you because they think they’re more experienced or whatever. Everyone is just in one big unit and happy to work together to make sure the team stays up. It’s quite a good environment when you consider that a lot of us have only come into the team this season.

“A lot of us arrived at the start of the season and many went straight into the starting line-up. We started off well and managed to get a few results under our belts before it all started to fall away. But I think that everyone has gelled well now and we’re really starting to play like a team – and that’s got to be expected when you have so many new faces.

“At the end of the day, we’re all professionals and we’re paid to play in a team. It’s up to us to work hard to make sure that happens.

“It’s coming to the end of the season, there are not that many games left and there are a lot of bad things being written in the press by former players or whatever, so we’re taking quite a bit of stick.”

Sunday’s game will be shown live on ESPN with a 12.30 kick off.

Fenlon slams ludicrous SPL post-split fixture shambles

Pat Fenlon has hit out at the “ludicrous” SPL post-split fixtures, which will see Hibs play their five games on four different days of the week. The team initially face two Sunday matches before playing on a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in May. The supporters also face a 250-mile round trip on a Wednesday evening to play Aberdeen.

The former Bohs manager told Hibs TV: “It’s peculiar. I don’t know who has sat down and worked them out, but it’s crazy. It’s ludicrous, but you have to get on with it. We can only approach the games properly and make sure at the end of it we are still in the league.

“Saturday afternoon is football day in most people’s eyes but you’ve now got four different days and however many different kick-off times.”

Meanwhile Chairman Rod Petrie has issued a rallying call to the fans as the club announced an extension to the ‘Early Bird’ season ticket offer.

In an open message to supporters on the club’s official website, he said: “Your team needs you – it’s as simple as that.

“If we do not rally to the cause no-one else will. Supporters will help determine how good an end to the season we have and the shape of the team for next season. We had a catastrophic 2011 to add to the problems in 2010. We made mistakes, I made mistakes. I am sorry. We have paid for these mistakes. That was then, this is 2012.

“We face the business end of the season with a stronger management team and a stronger playing squad than we had on the opening day.”

“This is not the league campaign we wanted. However, a semi-final tie against Aberdeen on 14 April has the potential to take us to a Scottish Cup final for the first time since 2001. This could yet be the season that all Hibernian supporters talk about for years to come. How can we make it happen? Support the team.

“There are some who want to talk us into looking down not up, even trading failure in the league for success in the cup. Now is the time for clear heads and calm nerves. We can succeed in both.”

Earlier this week, Hibs announced the departure of director Fife Hyland at the end of the season, which has prompted another reshuffle, with executive director Scott Lindsay incorporating responsibility for Hyland’s commercial and communications operations. Lifelong supporter and season ticket holder Brian Houston has been appointed as a non-executive director, in a popular move with the fans who have criticised the club for a lack of genuine Hibs supporters on the board.

Houston said: “Since my debut on the East Terracing in 1954 and my first cup final in 1958 this club has been part of me and I am delighted and honoured to have chance to contribute what I can of my experience to the on-going development of Hibernian.”

Ahead of this week’s home game against Motherwell, the last fixture before the split, manager Fenlon has praised striker Garry O’Connor’s contribution against Inverness Caley on Sunday. He said: “We took Garry out of the equation for the past two or three weeks to get him a little bit fitter.

“He has worked on that himself and we’re hoping that from now until the end of the season he’ll be able to pick up a few goals for us. We’re at the stage of the season where we need him fit and scoring goals. Hopefully he can help us climb the table.”

Thankfully for Fenlon, the injury to winger Ivan Sproule who was carried off against Inverness is not as serious as initially thought.

“The good news is that Ivan’s injury is not as bad as we first feared it might be. He was obviously in a lot of pain when he came off the pitch, but fortunately the injury has responded to treatment and he could be back in training sooner rather than later.”

One player desperate to help the club avoid relegation is club captain Ian Murray, who was delighted to get 60 minutes in a 3-1 victory against St Mirren in a bounce game at East Mains Training Ground on Wednesday. The long term injury victim said “It was my first game since the Hearts match at the start of January and overall I’ve only played two games since November, So I’m happy to be back and I think it went OK. I felt a bit sluggish at times but it went well. I played for an hour and it is a start and a step forward.”

Former Manchester United winger Danny Galbraith also featured in the game which Hibs won with goals from David Wotherspoon, Sean O’Hanlon and Roy O’Donovan.