Hibernian V St Mirren at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

26 April 2013 05:31
Hibernian V St Mirren - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

No bias in PFA vote - Stevenson

Hibernian defender Lewis Stevenson has added his voice to the continuing row surrounding the PFA Scotland player of the year nominations by claiming he would have no qualms voting for a Hearts player.

The absence of Celtic players from the four-man short-list, which includes Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths, Motherwell striker Michael Higdon, Inverness midfielder Andrew Shinnie and Aberdeen striker Niall McGinn, has not gone down well at Parkhead.

Hoops boss Neil Lennon described the outcome of the vote as "abysmal" while Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew, who won it last year, called it "baffling", even though seven Hoops players received nominations from their fellow professionals with midfielder Victor Wanyama up for the young player award.

Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels stoked the furore when asked about Lennon's complaints, saying: "Celtic make a song and dance about everything, don't they? Paranoid FC."

Stevenson, ahead of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with St Mirren at Easter Road, where one point will keep the Buddies safe from relegation at the expense of Dundee, insists he keeps an open mind when casting his vote.

"I'm sure I did vote for a Celtic player," he said. "I think I voted Wanyama and Higdon - you get two choices - and I'm sure I voted Wanyama for young player.

"If a Hearts player was a stand-out I would have no problem voting for him.

"It would be hard for me to vote for a Hearts player but he is a professional player and you wouldn't vote against him because he is a Hearts player.

"It was hard to pick a Celtic player because there are a lot of them that good, it is hard to single any of them out.

"But you can see why Leigh has been voted. He has stood out head and shoulders above the rest of us, him and Ben Williams.

"I'm sure Ben has the chance of being in the team of the year."

Defender Ryan McGivern returns from suspension for the clash.

Gary Deegan (foot) and Scott Robertson (knock) have returned to training this week so could be back in contention.

Manager Pat Fenlon will consider giving defender Tim Clancy and midfielder Kevin Thomson a rest.

Meanwhile, St Mirren striker Esmael Goncalves admits he still does not know if he will be waving goodbye to the Paisley club's adoring supporters this summer.

The on-loan Rio Ave frontman has enjoyed a sensational short-term stint in Scotland since arriving from Portugal in January.

The 21-year-old struck just seven minutes into his debut in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final victory over Clydesdale Bank Premier League champions Celtic.

Then he bagged another goal as the Buddies overcame Hearts 3-2 in the final to secure their first major trophy for 26 years.

All in all, Goncalves has struck six times in 11 outings for Danny Lennon's men but that form has convinced his paymasters in his homeland to recall him once his loan spell is up and try to cash in on his impressive figures.

Lennon admitted, however, that he has not given up hope of securing another loan spell and the former Nice attacker admits his future destination is uncertain.

Asked if he was preparing for his final four games in black and white, Goncalves told Press Association Sport: "It's the last four games of the season - after that, I don't know.

"If the opportunity was there to stay, I'd like that because I have really enjoyed my time in Scotland. But all I know is that Rio Ave want to sell me.

"You never know what could happen. I'm not sure about another loan deal but if they told me to come back here to St Mirren, I'd be happy. The fans really like me and I feel good here.

"If I go, though, I will miss Scotland, and especially the St Mirren fans. I really love the St Mirren fans."

Goncalves returns to the Saints line-up for the trip to Easter Road having sat out games against Kilmarnock and Dundee through suspension.

Lennon will have to do without his skipper Jim Goodwin following his dismissal against Dundee last week, with Lee Mair likely to take his place.

Long-term absentees Darren McGregor, David Barron and Thomas Reilly, meanwhile, all remain unavailable.

Source: PA