BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Dylan McGeouch is convinced Anthony Stokes remains the ‘quality’ player that shone at Celtic.
And the Hibernian midfielder believes the spotlight of today’s Edinburgh derby in the Scottish Cup is the perfect setting to prove that to anyone who has doubted him.
McGeouch and Stokes were team-mates at Parkhead and are now back together as the Easter Road outfit plot a Scottish Cup upset at Tynecastle.
McGeouch kick-started his career with a loan switch to Hibs last term, a move that was made permanent this season, and Stokes is now seeking to follow suit after being frozen out at the Hoops by Ronny Deila.
The Republic of Ireland internationalist has already netted twice in just two appearances for Hibs, where he enjoyed a prolific spell in 2009 and ’10 that earned him his move to boyhood heroes Celtic.
And McGeouch insists his pal still has what it takes to return to Parkhead with his reputation restored.
The 23-year-old midfielder said: “I was at Celtic a few years with him and he was playing every week. Him and Gary Hooper were great together.
“The way we play, it’s a great opportunity for him to come here and do well and you never know where it’ll take him.
“Is he still that player? Yeah, of course. I think quality doesn’t fade.
“You can tell when he has the ball, his movement, even in the short time we’ve seen him here, he has real quality.
“I think he has a point to prove. He believes he’s good enough to be playing so he’s come to Hibs to get game time, goals and he’ll be looking to go back and see where it takes him.
“He’s got the bit between his teeth to prove the people who’ve doubted him wrong. Hopefully he can shine for us and help us go up.
“Sunday will be massive. A lot of people will be watching, and we’ll all be looking to do well.
“It’s a chance for him to keep people talking about him.”
Hibs went to Tynecastle last weekend and emerged with a victory from their League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone.
That was a third Premiership scalp for Alan Stubbs’ side in the tournament but they will be aware that today’s tie, against their city rivals, who are riding high in third in the table, will be altogether more difficult.
Last Saturday, Hibs enjoyed support from three sides of the Gorgie ground that will this time bay for their blood.
However, McGeouch is convinced Hibs have the players who will be ready to stand up to whatever Hearts throw at them this lunch-time.
He added: “I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out. We’re a good football team and we like to play pretty football.
“But we’ve shown time and time again this season that if teams want to battle away that we can stand up to that and get the result.
“It’s just really about what Hearts bring. If they want to make it into a battle then I think we’ll be right up for it.
“And if they want to play good football then we’ll be there as well to play good football.
“No matter what game plan either team has, I think it’ll be a great game and I’m sure everyone involved will enjoy it.”