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Ross County V Hibernian at Victoria Park : Match Preview

24 Dec 2013 15:01:00

Ross County V Hibernian - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Adams calls for improved display

Boss Derek Adams has demanded a big improvement from Ross County when Hibernian come calling on Boxing Day following a dismal encounter the last time the sides met.


Hibs just managed to edge past the Highlanders with a 1-0 win in the William Hill Scottish Cup on November 30, in a tie that was branded "dire" by the County manager.


Now, as the two clubs prepare to do battle in the Scottish Premiership, Adams is expecting a lot more from his players this time around.


He said: "I thought it was a poor game. It was always a game that was going to be won by the one goal.


"There wasn't a lot of football, it was a bit of a scrap. We need to get away from that and get passing the ball and doing the things that we can do well.


"There wasn't much in the game. Being honest, it was dire from both teams. I wouldn't have liked to have watched the game myself."


County head into this clash languishing in 11th spot in the table, albeit still within touching distance of those above them.


Adams added: "We need to get back on a winning run that is going to propel us up the league. We've got that opportunity against Hibernian because it's a home game.


"We are in a situation where it's still very tight in the bottom six. A win can really help you and we have seen that in recent weeks with the likes of St Mirren and Kilmarnock.


"We want to try to catch those teams above us now."


Adams believes there are positives to be taken from last week's narrow defeat to Dundee United but concedes that putting the ball in the net has been a problem.


He said: "We had a lot of good play at times, especially in the first half and late on in the game as well.


"We just need to get on the end of the crosses that are coming into the box. We need to get that goal ahead to give us something to hold on to and that confidence to keep on going in the game."


Meanwhile, plans are already well under way to bring reinforcements to Dingwall next month.


Adams said: "We've got to strengthen the squad in January.


"We have to because the squad we've got just now is a bit depleted. We are already well down the line in trying to add over the festive period.


"If you look at the strength in depth, we have to do that.


"The players we have here already are going to be helped by players coming in."


Midfielder Marc Klok could come back in for the clash after missing the 1-0 defeat by Dundee United with a shin knock.


Defender Steven Saunders is back in contention after missing several weeks with a hamstring problem.


Hibernian manager Terry Butcher is taking no notice of Ross County's poor form ahead of their Scottish Premiership clash in Dingwall on Boxing Day.


The Staggies have gone eight games without a win which has left them sitting second-bottom of the table, their 14-point gap over Hearts helped by the Jambos' 15-point deduction for entering administration.


In the midst of County's struggle sits Butcher's first - and so far only - win since taking over as Hibs boss from Pat Fenlon in November.


When the two sides met in the fourth-round of Scottish Cup at the Global Energy Stadium last month, a first-half drive from Danny Handling took the Easter Road side into the next round.


However, Butcher remembers how difficult their task was, not least because his side had to play the last 20 minutes a man down after Paul Cairney picked up a second yellow card.


The former Motherwell boss said: "They have been unlucky with a few things that have gone against them but they still have a good squad, still got some good players, players who are capable of hurting you.


"We know how hard we had to work to beat them in the cup and we don't want to go down to 10 men again like we did,


"We certainly want to play better and have that same steel and resilience that we had when we won in the cup."


The game, however, will take place under the pall of the tragic death of Easter Road youth player David Paul on Sunday.


The 18-year-old passed away at his home in the early hours before 13-year-old Jamie Skinner, who had left the Hearts Academy a couple of weeks ago, died after collapsing on the pitch playing for Tynecastle Boys club under-14 side.


While Edinburgh football continues to mourn the tragedy Hibs skipper Liam Craig admits he is "embarrassed" to even speak about football


Craig, who played for Tynecastle Boys club, said: "At times like this football doesn't matter.


"I am a bit embarrassed to talk about football when two families have lost their sons.


"As Hibs captain and a Hibs player, you are never prepared for this.


"I heard the news on Sunday and sat in a daze for most of the day and then the news came though about young Jamie as well and Tynecastle is a club I played for at under-13s.


"The important thing is that we remember David and the club will do that.


"It is important that we are there for the younger players that played with him day in, day out.


"But the reality is we have a game of football on Boxing Day and we will do everything we can to win that game.


"We need to stick together and be professional and we will be ready for it. We are going up there to win the game and afterward help each other through it."


Rowan Vine and Owain Tudur Jones return to the Hibernian squad.


Both players missed the goalless draw against St Johnstone at Easter Road on Saturday for personal reasons.


Defender James McPake (back) remains out but striker Paul Heffernan and winger Alex Harris are back training with the first team again after recovering from respective thigh and ankle injuries but it is too early for both.






PA

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