Shiels aims for fitting farewell
Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels wants their Clydesdale Bank Premier League game against Hibernian to act as a tribute to the fan who lost his life the last time the two clubs met.
The meeting at Rugby Park on May 5 was abandoned after supporter James Haswell collapsed in the stands with a suspected heart attack and later died in hospital.
The rearranged match will take place on Wednesday night, with his family in attendance, and Shiels is keen for the occasion to be a celebration of the fan's life.
He said: "We are expecting a really good game. We are looking forward to the occasion because it's to celebrate the life of one of our supporters.
"That's foremost in our thoughts as we go into the game.
"Someone said to me that it just puts things into perspective and that life is more important than football.
"But for football supporters, within the moment of the game, the most important thing to them is football for those 90 minutes.
"Jim was no different. The fellow supporters of Kilmarnock can draw an affinity with that. They have lost one of theirs and this is a chance to go and have an occasion where we can celebrate his life. That's important."
Hibs will battle Celtic for the William Hill Scottish Cup on May 26.
But Shiels expects the Edinburgh club to be just as determined as his own players to secure a win and bolster their chances of finishing in seventh spot.
He said: "There are always permutations of some sort but it's a game of football at the end of it all.
"Hibs will want to win to get seventh place, as will we. That will make it competitive and I'm expecting it to be a really top game with a lot of good young players on show from Hibernian and Kilmarnock."
However, youngster Mark O'Hara hopes Hibs boss Pat Fenlon might be tempted to rest some of his top stars ahead of the Hampden showdown.
The 17-year-old defender said: "Even with their strongest team, hopefully we will be able to win the game. But it would be preferable if they rested a couple of their bigger players.
"Both teams like to play good attacking football so I think it will be an entertaining game.
"Hopefully it will be high scoring in our favour if we are able to keep them out and score a few ourselves."
Indeed, Fenlon admits he is wrestling with the idea of resting Leigh Griffiths ahead of the Scottish Cup final.
The 22-year-old striker, who is on loan from Wolves, scored his 28th goal of the season in the 2-1 win over city rivals Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday to better Stevie Cowan's Easter Road record from 1986.
He now wants to become the first player at Hibs to reach the 30-mark since Alan Gordon and Jim O'Rourke in the 1972/73 season.
Griffiths, who picked up his Clydesdale Bank Premier League player of the year award at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow on Monday night to add to his PFA Scotland young player of the year accolade, has three games left.
Hibs play Kilmarnock before taking on Dundee in the last league fixture of the season ahead of the visit to Hampden.
Asked if there was a part of him which wants to leave Griffiths out before the final, which the Leith club are looking to win for the first time in 111 years, the Hibs boss said: "It is a difficult scenario at the moment.
"He just wants to play and he is bubbly this morning again after winning his award.
"We have to manage him and we have to pick teams for the two games, to make sure we get the best out of the players.
"But it is in your head sometimes that maybe it might be worth leaving him out to give him some recovery time but we will wait and see, I haven't made my mind up on the team for Wednesday.
"But Leigh has a target and obviously the more games he plays the better chance he will have of getting it."
While contemplating taking Griffiths out of the firing line with a view to the final, Fenlon admits he already has Hampden injury worries.
Defenders Ryan McGivern (knee), Tim Clancy (abductor) and James McPake (glutes) all missed the derby against Hearts with the latter two definitely out of the Killie game.
The former Shelbourne boss said: "Ryan did a little bit this morning and we are hopeful that he will be involved in the squad.
"Tim and James won't be involved, we will need to see how they are towards the weekend but they definitely wont play.
"Tim has a bit of a problem in his abductor muscle. There is no tear, it is just a bit of tenderness and inflammation so we are giving him a break to see if it eases off.
"If he comes back into training and it inflames again then obviously we have to look at something different.
"James is stiff in his glutes, and we will see if he we can get him going again with a view to Saturday and view to the final."