Hibs must attack Celtic, says John Collins

John Collins celebrates Hibernian's 2007 League Cup success at Hampden
Collins steered Hibernian to League Cup glory in 2007

Former manager John Collins is urging Hibernian to be positive when they host Celtic in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

"It's important for Hibs to take the game to Celtic and attack their weakness at the moment, which is their back four," Collins told BBC Scotland.

"The first goal is vital. When Celtic get their noses in front, rarely do they end up losing.

"And Celtic, being Celtic, will fancy their chances wherever they go."

Ex-Scotland midfielder Collins, who played for both teams, managed Hibs to League Cup success in 2007 before resigning his post later that year.

"I think it's the easiest tournament to win, no doubt about it," he said.

"Most people expect Celtic to win, so the pressure is off Hibs to a certain extent, but they have to believe they can do it.

"They have to be in that dressing-room believing they can put Celtic under pressure and score goals.

"When you play the Old Firm, the key is not to sit back and try to hit on the break. I think you have to try and take the game to them."

Hibs warmed up for Wednesday's tie with a 3-2 win at St Mirren on Saturday, while Celtic beat Aberdeen 2-1 on Sunday.

However, both sides have been less than convincing this season, with Hibs having won only one of their six home matches in the Scottish Premier League and Celtic trailing leaders Rangers by 10 points.

"Hibs' home form has been very poor indeed, but you'd like to think they would be able forget about that," continued Collins. "It's the quarter-final of the Cup and fans have got to come along and get right behind the team.

"With Rangers already out, if you can beat Celtic, you've got to think you can go on and win the tournament.

"Hibs' attacking options are good. Up front, that's the biggest strength.

"Garry O'Connor has been finding the net regularly and Leigh Griffith is finding his sharpness after a run of games."

Celtic opened the SPL season with a very comfortable 2-0 win at Easter Road, with Hibs failing to register a shot on target or win a corner.

However, the visitors' defence will be much changed from that 24 July encounter, with Emilio Izaguirre, Kelvin Wilson and Glenn Loovens all unavailable through injury.

"Celtic have to tighten up at the back," added Collins, who won the 1995 Scottish Cup during his time at Parkhead.

"They are conceding too many easy goals, but, week-in, week-out, Celtic create chances, although they have not been scoring as many as they would have liked recently.

"Giving away sloppy goals puts pressure on strikers to score two or three to win matches.

"But they have quality players up front and I'm sure the Hibs defence will be under plenty of pressure as well.

"Celtic have had problems with injuries, staring with Izaguirre, who was their best player last season - not just as part of the defensive unit but going forward and being creative.

"The centre-halves have been chopping and changing and it's the same at right-back, sometimes due to injuries.

"But Neil Lennon can call on so many players in that area and I think they are all of a similar standard."