New-look Hibs gives Kenny Shiels Scottish Cup homework

By John BarnesBBC Scotland
Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels
Shiels wants Kilmarnock to shine in the Scottish Cup

Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels has been doing his homework on Scottish Cup opponents Hibernian.

The Easter Road club brought in eight players in the January transfer window, forcing Shiels to do some thinking.

Shiels told BBC Scotland: "We've got a tough game on Saturday. They've made good investments. I know a few of them and they certainly will be strong."

Killie are boosted by last week's defeat of Ayr United to reach the final of the Scottish Communities League Cup.

The extra-time win over rivals Ayr United at Hampden last weekend means they travel to the capital to face Hibs in buoyant mood.

"The boys have shown good spirit this week and obviously having reached a cup final the frame of mind is very good," said Shiels.

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon with his January signings
Hibs boss Pat Fenlon added a number of new faces during the January transfer window

However, the Ayrshire side will be without influential midfielder Gary Harkins, who has suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury.

Last month, he was diagnosed with a broken ankle but was back in his attacking midfield role within three weeks. A calf injury means Dutch midfielder Danny Buijs will also miss the Easter Road tie.

Shiels admits the new signings by Hibs counterpart Pat Fenlon has made his job more difficult.

"Hibernian are a massive club - a top-six club, no matter who they bring in," said the Northern Irishman.

"Knowing a few of them helps my preparation. I know where they can threaten us; it's a good help to have that.

"I know the boy Tom Soares has been down in England and done well, right-back George Francomb was at Norwich, and I know of the Gambian left-back [Pa Saikou Kujabi].

"Jorge Claros, the centre midfielder, I don't know much about him, but if Rangers were in for him he must have been a good player."

Excluding their Hampden victory over Ayr United, Killie have won only one of their 12 away matches this season.

And, despite having beaten Hibs at Rugby Park back in August, Shiels believes it will be a shock if they win on Saturday.

"It's the Scottish Cup - we might produce a surprise and go there and get a result," he said.

"We haven't done particularly well away from home. We've had a lot of draws.

"We were at Easter Road earlier in the season and drew 1-1. We were unfortunate so we want to try and redress that and get a victory this time."

With Killie already in one cup final, any talk of a possible cup double is ruled out by the Rugby Park boss.

"We're in with a chance of progressing in the Scottish Cup on Saturday and that's as far as we're looking," he insisted.

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