Play-off loss aids cup chances – Stubbs

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Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs gets a close look at the Scottish Cup
Scottish Cup final: Rangers v Hibernian
Date: Saturday, 21 May Venue: Hampden Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch on BBC One Scotland; listen on BBC Radio Scotland; TV, radio and text coverage on BBC Sport website

Hibs boss Alan Stubbs admits it would have been “bordering on impossible” to have played a play-off final and won Saturday’s Scottish Cup final.

But having lost to Falkirk in the Premiership play-off semi-final and missed out on promotion, he believes the season could yet be a success.

And he thinks many Hibernian supporters would take a cup final win against Rangers this weekend over promotion.

“It’s been a season we can take positives out of,” said Stubbs.

“The big negative is we didn’t achieve our main goal [promotion] and we’re disappointed from that.

“But, after Saturday, we’re already focusing on next season. We are planning towards making the team even stronger.

“I don’t think you need a carrot dangling in terms of what’s at stake on Saturday. They may never have another opportunity to play in a Scottish Cup final. I hope they do.

“I certainly would love them to play in two, three, four cup finals but the likelihood of that is that they may not.

“That’s why, on Saturday, they have to basically crawl off that pitch at the end and give everything that they’ve got in order to try and win it.”

A ‘unique’ and ‘momentous’ occasion

Hibs fans have suffered cup heartache in recent years

Stubbs led Hibs to this season’s League Cup final, where they lost to Ross County, and they will now attempt to win the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902.

“I know a lot of fans would take a Scottish Cup win over promotion this season,” said the Englishman. “That tells you where the fans are. It’s such a momentous occasion on Saturday and what the events of it could possibly lead to – that makes it, for our fans certainly, such a unique game.

“It’s 114 years now and a lot of them, on Saturday, may get an opportunity to see something that they probably thought they may never see.

“For us to have come through Raith, Falkirk and then Kilmarnock [in the play-offs] before the Scottish Cup in between would’ve been some ask

“I didn’t want to say it before but it was bordering on impossible. We were prepared to do that because we knew what was at stake and the rewards of it.”

Dylan McGeouch is fit and available after a recent injury and forward Farid El Alagui is Stubbs’ only absentee.

And the head coach played down suggestions his main decision was to go with top scorer Jason Cummings or in-form James Keatings in attack with on-loan Celtic striker Anthony Stokes and forward Chris Dagnall also available.

“No-one’s guaranteed a starting place,” he added. “I’ve got a decision to make on what striker or strikers I decide to go with on Saturday that I think gives us the best chance of winning the game.

“We are in really good shape.”

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