Hibernian V Celtic at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

28 December 2012 07:01
Hibernian V Celtic - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

McPake: Time to step it up

Captain James McPake knows his Hibernian side must rediscover their early-season form to trouble Clydesdale Bank Premier League leaders Celtic at Easter Road.

Fourth-placed Hibs have four points from their last seven games and put in a desperate performance in losing 1-0 to Ross County on Wednesday.

McPake describes Celtic as "frightening" at their best and is well aware Hibs' top form is required for them to have any hope of improving on the 2-2 draw at Parkhead earlier this season.

McPake said: "Celtic are the best team in the country, no doubt about that. On their day they can be frightening.

"We proved when we went to Celtic Park that we can be a match for them.

"I think our biggest problem will be which Hibs team turns up.

"We've got to make sure that when we take to the pitch on Saturday we play the way we had been playing earlier in the season. If that happens then it should be a good game."

Hibs have a full squad available. Right-back Tim Clancy returned from a troublesome groin problem in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Ross County and is likely to continue providing there are no ill-effects.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes Hibs, who drew 2-2 at Parkhead earlier this season, will pose to tough challenge.

Lennon said: "I think Pat (Fenlon, Hibs manager) has made huge strides in turning things round at Hibs.

"They were languishing at the foot of the table for the majority of last season. They got to a cup final, albeit it ended disappointingly.

"But the progression they have made under Pat this season has been tremendous. They have been more or less there or thereabouts in the top three or four all season.

"He has turned around the character of the squad, I think he has recruited well, and in (Leigh) Griffiths they have a player who has been very consistent this season.

"Easter Road is a great fixture, Celtic-Hibs, and the players are very much looking forward to going there and playing. But it won't be easy."

James Forrest and Charlie Mulgrew have been ruled out of Celtic's squad for the match.

Winger Forrest has picked up a different, less serious, hamstring injury after coming back from a two-month lay-off while Mulgrew has strained a muscle near his ribs.

Adam Matthews (ankle), Kris Commons (thigh), Anthony Stokes (ankle) and Joe Ledley (groin) remain out.

Source: PA