Scottish League Cup 2016: Hibs head to Spain with McGeouch out

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland in Malaga
John McGinn
John McGinn's winning goal against St Johnstone booked Hibs a place in the League Cup final
Scottish League Cup Final: Hibernian v Ross County
Venue: Hampden Park. Date: Sunday, 13 March. Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB; Live text commentary on BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app

Alan Stubbs' Hibernian squad landed in the Costa Del Sol late on Monday afternoon to 40mph winds that had thankfully blown away squally showers that battered the south of Spain at lunchtime.

The squad are staying in a La Cala Golf and Spa resort in the hills around a 40-minute drive away from Malaga Airport.

But this will be no holiday for Stubbs and his squad as they prepare for Sunday's Scottish League Cup final against Ross County.

There will undoubtedly be some "team bonding" time, but the main focus will be on ensuring there is silverware in the Easter Road trophy cabinet on Sunday evening.

On Tuesday morning the media will descend on the team hotel with key players like Anthony Stokes, Jason Cummings and Kevin Thomson likely to give us their views on how Hibs can win the cup.

There will be tales of high jinks and memories of cup successes in the past, but in truth it's all about Sunday and how they will cope with the pressure of trying to capture the club's first major trophy since 2007.

The news though that influential midfielder Dylan McGeouch will miss Sunday's final against Ross County is a big blow.

Hibs midfielder Dylan McGeouch receives treatment during their Scottish cup quarter-final against Inverness
Stubbs says McGeouch "is gutted he will miss the final and hasn't been able to come through"

McGeouch limped off after picking up a groin injury in Sunday's 1-1 Scottish Cup quarter-final draw against Inverness Caley Thistle.

The former Celtic midfielder has been a key player for the Easter Road outfit since making his move from Parkhead a permanent one earlier this season.

The 23-year-old has tasted defeat on only three occasions this season when wearing the green and white of Hibernian and there is little doubt he would have started against County if fully fit.

"I am as disappointed for Dylan as he is," Stubbs told BBC Scotland. "He is a really important member of our group and was desperate to be ready for this game and the run-in. I don't think it is anything major, but unfortunately it is a setback for him."

McGeouch, however, has travelled to Spain for the preparations as Stubbs looks to somehow rejuvenate his players after what has been a pretty lengthy campaign.

The recent losses to Morton, Dumbarton and Queen of the South have harmed their hopes of winning automatic promotion no end with Rangers now looking destined to claim the Championship title.

Hibs' challenge for the Championship title has been derailed by three straight league defeats

But there is still plenty for this Hibs squad to play for.

They will unquestionably take great strength from the 1-1 Scottish Cup quarter-final draw with Inverness Caley Thistle on Sunday, bringing an end to their three-match losing streak.

They will also take positivity into Sunday's final when they look back at their success this season against teams from the Premiership.

They have earned notable scalps against Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Dundee United, while the Scottish Cup win over city rivals Hearts over two games will live long in the memories of those who witnessed their replay success at Easter Road.

Stubbs' job this week in Spain is to ensure his players are focused on the job that lies ahead of them.

And when you look at the talent and abundant experience in his squad, there is plenty for Stubbs and the Easter Road faithful to be positive about approaching Sunday's game.

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