BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hibernian head coach Alan Stubbs has vowed to explore every possible avenue in a bid to overturn Mark Oxley’s costly yellow card against Inverness as he urged “common sense” to prevail.
The 25-year-old was cautioned in the closing stages of Hibs’ 2-1 win in the Highlands which saw them book a return to Hampden for next month’s semi-final against Dundee United.
As it stands, Oxley will be absent for the clash after collecting his second yellow card of the competition when referee Stephen Finnie adjudged the former Hull stopper to be time-wasting – despite his assertion that he had lost his contact lens.
Under current rules, simulation is the only bookable offence which can be appealed. Stubbs, however, shows no sign of letting the matter lie and is adamant Wednesday’s contentious caution represents a unique case and could seek special dispensation from the Scottish Football Association.
The Hibs chief is awaiting a copy of Mr Finnie’s report, which will outline the exact reason for booking Oxley, who had to be replaced by debutant Otso Virtanen, and will subsequently contact the SFA.
Stubbs said: “If he has been booked for feigning injury or simulation then it’s clear that wasn’t the case. He’s lost a contact lense and for me, that is an injury. He was impaired and couldn’t see properly out of one eye.
“There was confusion around the situation and I don’t really know what the ref has booked him for. We will have to wait and see what the report says – but it’s obvious he wasn’t feigning injury.
“It seemed a strange booking because we had to bring him off as he couldn’t see. We will have to wait and see what happens but we will look at the footage and, if it’s a booking for time-wasting, how long it actually was.
“If there is a case for us, and hopefully there is, we will look to see if we can appeal. You look at some situations and hope that common sense will prevail. I think those are special circumstances.
“An eye injury is like a head injury. If you have a problem, it’s not good. It’s not often you see a contact lense coming out and Ox was worried his vision was seriously impaired. We want to see what exactly he was booked for and that will determine our next step.”
While Oxley could miss Hibs’ return to Hampden, he will be back between the sticks when they travel to Raith Rovers tomorrow afternoon.
And Stubbs has emphasised that their increasingly impressive record against Premiership sides will mean nothing if they do not secure promotion this term.
Wednesday’s triumph against Inverness takes the Hibees’ record against top flight team to five wins and two draws from eight matches, including victories over Celtic’s closest challengers Aberdeen and Hearts.
However, Stubbs continued: “We have to do it over a season. Our performances against Premiership teams have been very good and the thing that gives me a lot of confidence is that it has been very consistent.
“We have lost one game against Premiership teams and, if we had only played one or two, then you tend to look at it and say ‘it doesn’t give a fair reflection of how we would fare up there’, but we’ve had eight and won five.
“I’ve said all along that this team would cope in the top flight and that backs up my argument to an extent. However, the thing that will really back that up is winning promotion. Our main priority has always been to win promotion and get up.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs has revealed that he will not be in attendance when promotion rivals Falkirk and Rangers square off in this evening’s televised tussle.
A win for the Gers would see Mark Warburton’s men open up a 20 point lead over the Hibees, while success for the Bairns would move them six ahead of Hibs – albeit the capital club will have three games in hand.
However, Stubbs will take in the encounter from the comfort of his home.
He smiled: “I probably won’t go to the game. I don’t fancy getting any stick! Plus, we know what both teams are capable of and we are not necessarily playing them for a while. We will have other opportunities to see them.”