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Saturday 30th January 2016

Hibs v Saints - predicted line-ups

Craig Fowler sets the scene for today’s Scottish League Cup clash between Hibernian and St Johnstone.

Craig Fowler sets the scene for today’s Scottish League Cup clash between Hibernian and St Johnstone.
St. Johnstone
Dave Mackay is a doubt for this match but may not feature anyway. This defence did ship three goals at Celtic Park in the last game, but there is no shame in such a defeat, and fans were generally encouraged by the performance from the back line.
If Mackay doesn't make it then Tommy Wright doesn't have a whole lot of options anyway, with only Darnell Fisher a serious contender to earn a start.
We'll predict a little smoke and mirrors on the part of Wright with regards to the injury problems and say Murray Davidson will be fit for the game. Even if he's at 60 per cent it's easy to imagine Saints risking him. He gives a physical presence and willingness to scrap unmatched by anyone else in the St Johnstone midfield.
Wotherspoon performed well whenever St Johnstone came up against his old side Hibernian in his first season at McDiarmid Park. They'll be hoping to get a similar sort of reaction out of Liam Craig.
Up Front
O'Halloran was brought back into the side against Celtic and showed no sign of distraction over recent transfer speculation.
Had this been against Celtic or perhaps even Aberdeen or Hearts then there might be a temptation to start O'Halloran up front. Hibs, potentially wary of what happened to Rangers earlier in the competition, will likely be more cautious and not leave as much space in behind.
Cummins has yet to get back to his start-of-season form, but that will come with time and Wright showed enough faith in the striker to start him at Celtic Park last week.
Predicted Saints Line-up
GK - Alan Mannus
DR - Joe Shaughnessy
DC - Steven Anderson
DC - Tom Scobbie
DL - Brian Easton
MR - Michael O'Halloran
MC - David Wotherspoon
MC - Murray Davidson
ML - Liam Craig
FC - Steven MacLean
FC - Graham Cummins
Alan Stubbs is likely to stick with the same defence that would have kept a clean sheet against St Mirren were it not for Stephen Mallan's superb free-kick.
If he decides to deviate from this five-some then look for Darren McGregor to either start in place of Gray or Fontaine as Stubbs has liked to rotate the former Rangers man in on occasion.
Hibs added a new goalkeeper on Sunday in the form of Otso Virtanen. His three-and-a-half-year deal would suggest he's the goalkeeper of the future for the club, but there's little chance the youngster will be thrown right in at the deep end.
Fyvie and McGinn are sure to start. Henderson will likely get the nod over James Keatings or even Anthony Stokes. The 'striker at the tip of the diamond' experiment may be over and Henderson excelled in his last two showings.
The last place will likely depend on the fitness of McGeouch. He missed the win over St Mirren but, similar to Davidson for St Johnstone, even if he's only at 60 per cent, chances are he'll play. His intelligence and dynamism in the centre of the park is key to Hibs.
Up front
For someone who hadn't played since August, Anthony Stokes looked very sharp in the final 15 minutes against St Mirren, so Stubbs could be tempted to use his new signing in this game. However, with the prospect of extra time coming into play, and Stokes being a great x-factor from the bench, he'll likely keep him on the sidelines from the start.
Besides, Dagnall impressed against St Mirren, while Cummings has scored goals for fun this season. This is not an easy side for Stokes to walk into.
Predicted Hibs Line-up
GK - Mark Oxley
DR - David Gray
DC - Liam Fontaine
DC - Paul Hanlon
DL - Lewis Stevensom
DM - Fraser Fyvie
MC - John McGinn
MC - Dylan McGeouch
AM - Liam Henderson
FC - Jason Cummings
FC - Chris Dagnall