Hibernian V Inverness CT at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

29 March 2013 06:31
Hibernian V Inverness CT - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Williams: I am not yet at my peak

Ben Williams has told Hibernian fans who voted him the player of the year that the best is yet to come.

The 30-year-old Easter Road goalkeeper beat off a strong challenge from 22-goal striker Leigh Griffiths to pick up the award at the Supporters' Association annual dinner last Sunday.

Williams started out as a Manchester United trainee in 2002 before plying his trade in the English lower leagues but he believes he is about to enter the best years of his career.

Ahead of the visit of Inverness in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League on Saturday, he told Press Association Sport:

"I would say I am getting to the place I want to be as a goalkeeper.

"I would say that I am arriving into my peak, both fitness-wise and in terms of experience and mentality.

"In the last five seasons I have had three player-of-the-year awards.

"I got player of the year at Carlisle and in my first year at Colchester.

"So it is good recognition for me and testament to the amount of work I put in to try to get to a consistent level of goalkeeping.

"With goalkeeping, it is such a long learning curve, early on in your career you just don't perform consistently.

"You will have games where you are amazing and you will have games where you will make mistakes and you will probably dwell on the mistakes too long and are overly critical of yourself.

"But the next few years will be my peak time and if I can pick up more awards that would be fantastic.

"You are always judged by your mistakes and if you don't make many mistakes then people will have you down as a reliable goalkeeper so long may that continue."

With two games remaining before the split, Hibs are in sixth place on goal difference over Dundee United.

A trip to Parkhead follows the visit of Caley before the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Falkirk at Hampden.

Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon should have Tim Clancy back in contention. The former Kilmarnock defender has recovered from the hamstring complaint which has kept him out for almost two months.

Stopper Paul Hanlon has shaken off his hip injury but will not feature, while defender Alan Maybury is suspended after picking up his sixth booking of the season in the 4-1 defeat at Motherwell before the international break.

Inverness manager Terry Butcher is confident his players will not slack off after securing the club's first top-six finish - and has urged them to enjoy the final seven matches now that their initial goal has been reached.

Caley Thistle booked their place in the top half with a 2-1 victory over Ross County and have much to play for with a European slot on offer if they maintain third place in the table.

And Butcher wants to marry the players' drive with a new-found sense of freedom when they face Hibs.

The former England captain said: "There's a big danger of players switching off now knowing we have achieved that (top six) but I don't sense that with these players.

"Every week they drive themselves on and we drive them on, and they seem to pull some energy levels and some skill, guts and grit from somewhere. They have just been brilliant."

Butcher dismissed suggestions his side had hit a slump when they lost five matches out of six earlier this year, including two cup ties.

He was entirely vindicated by their subsequent unbeaten run, which stands at five games.

And any nagging doubts about their season failing to live up to its early promise have been lifted, with the chance remaining to make it even more memorable.

"I feel a lot of pressure has been taken off and the players do too," Butcher said.

"You see them enjoying things and we keep looking at the SPL table and seeing ourselves up there and it's brilliant."

"Hopefully we'll now see a lot more freedom and expression from the players and they enjoy it even more.

"We have enjoyed this season immensely to date - there have been a lot of highs and who knows where we can finish?

"If you look at my teams here at Caley Thistle in the past they have always done well in the last games. We have never let things slip.

"The promotion year we won (the last) nine, when we finished seventh we won five out of six, even last year we won games towards the end.

"I think the players are well fired-up for it."

Inverness will be without goalkeeper Ryan Esson and centre-back Gary Warren. Both are out for up to six weeks - Esson with a torn thigh muscle and Warren with lateral ligament damage in his knee.

Chris Hogg is not yet ready to step in after a year out with a knee injury but Graeme Shinnie returns from suspension. Simon King remains out.

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 16:17