The first meeting of the teams at Easter Road since 2012 sees Hibs and the Pars looking to build on opening day wins in this season's Championship. Hibs are rated as 8/11 favourites to win the division this year with the Pars fourth favourites at 11/1 (both odds listed via SkyBet). The Edinburgh side have the financial means to reject a bid of over £1.5 million for striker Jason Cummings from Peterborough, and after 2 failed promotion bids in the past 2 seasons, new manager Neil Lennon's remit is to get the club back into the Premiership, where it undoubtedly belongs. Dunfermline, rightly, have similar ambitions and the game should be a good early indicator of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.
Hibs' season so far has been mixed: an unfortunate exit from the Europa League qualifying round - after landing a tough draw against Danish side Brondby, Hibs lost the first leg at home after having a Cummings goal controversially disallowed. They travelled to Denmark for the second leg and won 1-0 to force the tie into a penalty shoot-out where they lost 5-3. Domestically, in the Betfred League Cup they were excused the group stage due to their involvement in Europe and then went out in the first knock-out round on Tuesday evening after a 3-1 home loss to Queen Of The South.
After winning the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902, manager Alan Stubbs decided to take up the offer of the Rotherham job in the Championship in England. Hibs quickly replaced Stubbs with Neil Lennon, and the new boss has added 3 new players to his squad - the fewest additions of any Championship team this summer - and, most importantly, has so far kept hold of Cummings (pictured, right), the club's prize asset with 25 goals last season and 2 this term in the club's 4 competitive games. The highest profile Hibs signing this summer was veteran striker Grant Holt, who enjoyed the best spell of his career at Norwich City between 2009-2013. Since leaving Norwich, Holt has had unsuccessful spells at 5 clubs (3 on loan), scoring only 8 goals in 3 years. Despite this, he will still be a threat to defences at this level of Scottish football.
Dunfermline go into the game without influential defender Lee Ashcroft after his red card in injury time against Dumbarton. The loss of Ashcroft will almost certainly see Lewis Martin (pictured, below) move from left back to central defence, with full back Jason Talbot - suspended last week - now available. The other central defensive option, Callum Fordyce, has not played any first team football since his return from long term injury. Nat Wedderburn, who played so well in a similar environment to Easter Road, when the Pars recently played Dundee United at Tannadice, was injured in training this week and will miss the game - another blow to manager Allan Johnston, who would have utilised the player in a defensive midfield role. This leaves the starting 11 almost selecting itself. Michael Paton and David Hopkirk made substitute appearances last week after missing all previous first team games through injury. They are highly unlikely to start tomorrow. The manager may decide to play 4-1-3-2, despite Wedderburn's absence as the "1", with either Lewis Spence or Andy Geggan playing in front of the back 4. This would take away the attacking threat that Geggan possesses, so a 4-4-2 formation might be favoured, relying on attacking the home side but vulnerable defensively due to the absences of Ashcroft and Wedderburn.
Possible Pars starting 11:
Lewis Martin photo by Pars Review.