Alan Stubbs: Hibernian critics will bring out players' 'steel'

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Alan Stubbs looks frustrated as he watches Hibs draw 2-2 with Falkirk on Tuesday
Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Falkirk saw Hibs stay six points behind their opponents in the race for second
Scottish Cup semi-final: Hibernian v Dundee United
Date: Saturday, 16 April Venue: Hampden Kick-off: 12:15 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Hibernian boss Alan Stubbs says the club's critics are "wasting their time" and his players will show their "steel" in Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final.

The Championship club approach the Hampden clash with Premiership basement side Dundee United having only won one of their last eight league games.

But despite having to settle for the play-offs, victory on Saturday will see Hibs into a second cup final this term.

"People can say what they want. They are wasting their time," Stubbs said.

"It isn't going to affect what we want to achieve. Let's just see what happens at the end of the season.

"When things happen, it just makes you stronger and makes you want to prove people wrong even more.

"I am glad I have got the group of players I have. Sometimes when people try to write you off, it just brings that extra bit more out of you.

"I know the players are hurting. They have had a lot of plaudits this season, and then probably a few negative headlines over the last month or so. But all that makes them want to do is work even harder.

"When you have got that determination and steeliness about you, it can be a very useful tool to have."

"Alan and our coaches have not become poor overnight": Leeann Dempster

'We want the opportunity to end the wait'

Hibs have already endured the agony of a last-minute defeat by Ross County in the Scottish League Cup final this season.

But their travails in Scottish Cup finals have long been a source of pain for supporters, 114 years - and 10 lost finals, in 1914, 1923, 1924, 1947, 1958, 1972, 1979, 2001, 2012 and 2013 - having passed since the second of their two triumphs in 1902.

"I can understand their thoughts on that, but it would be more agonising for the teams that have never got there and never been to that stage because they are still dreaming," Stubbs said.

"You can only realise a dream if you are in it to win it, and you can't win it unless you are in the final.

"We want to give ourselves and opportunity to progress through and give ourselves another opportunity to end the wait. But you can't end it unless you get to the final."

Which keeper to play at Hampden?

With first-choice keeper Mark Oxley - who has started all Hibs' 44 games this season - suspended after picking up a second yellow card of the competition in their quarter-final replay win at Inverness, Stubbs will have to pitch a player with next to no recent first-team experience into the Hampden encounter.

Finnish keeper Otso Virtanen, 22, arrived in January and his one appearance to date was as a substitute for the final few minutes at Caledonian Stadium.

His other option is Irish keeper Conrad Logan, signed two weeks ago on a short-term deal until the end of the season.

Logan, 29, spent 14 years at Leicester but only played 30 games, and had loan spells at six lower league clubs. His last senior game was for Rochdale in December 2014.

"We have spoken about it but it will be a decision that will be left probably at least until Friday," said Stubbs, who is hoping full-back David Gray, victim of a heavy tackle in the 2-2 midweek draw with Falkirk, will recover in time to play.

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport