BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Alan Stubbs believes St Johnstone’s recent achievements are ‘incredible’ – but still believes Saturday’s League Cup semi-final between the sides could be too close to call.
St Johnstone have established themselves as a top-six team in the country, lifted the Scottish Cup in 2014 and have qualified for Europe in each of the last four seasons.
However, McDiarmid Park manager Tommy Wright has indicated he feels Hibs should be regarded as favourites for the Tynecastle encounter, despite currently plying their trade in the second-tier of Scottish football.
He has cited the Easter Road side’s ability to entice Anthony Stokes on loan from Celtic and the fact he lost out to the capital club in trying to land Darren McGregor from Rangers in the summer as examples of their greater spending power.
Stubbs, though, is full of praise for Hibs’ semi-final rivals and insists neither side should be regarded as favourites for a tie that recreates in reverse the meeting of the teams in 2007 when Hibs were the top-flight club and Saints were in the First Division.
Hibs won after extra-time and went on to lift the trophy and supporters will be dreaming of a repeat of that success.
Stubbs said: “We can go there with confidence but it’s going to be a very difficult game. We know how hard a team St Johnstone are to play against.
“Tommy has done a fantastic job at St Johnstone and, on the resources, to finish where they have done over the last five or six years is incredible.
“We’re really looking forward to it.
“I’ve got to say, I don’t think there is a favourite for the game. I think we’ve both got a good chance of winning the game.”
Midfielder John McGinn, meanwhile, believes Hibs have ‘nothing to fear’ this weekend.
The Easter Road outfit have defeated Aberdeen 2-0 and Dundee United 3-0, as well as Montrose and Stranraer in the tournament, to get within touching distance of a trip to Hampden to face either Celtic or Ross County.
And, having suffered just one defeat in their last 22 matches – during which they have won 18 times – McGinn is relishing the chance to help Hibs reach a final.
He added: “We’ve got nothing to fear. St Johnstone are a good side but it’s a cup semi-final and anything can happen.
“All the boys are really looking forward to it. I’m sure it will be a great atmosphere.
“Hopefully we can progress through to the final, it’s a good opportunity for us.”