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[S Dobbie pen 80]
4 of 016 Craig Sives 41 ;Mark de Vries 63 ;Dennis Wyness 81 Other Cup H

Leaner and stronger Dobbie targeting a double over Hearts


STEPHEN DOBBIE set Hibs on the road to victory over Hearts in last month’s East of Scotland Shield - tomorrow he’s intent on making it a glory double over the Easter Road outfit’s arch-rivals by lifting the Festival Cup.

But the 21-year-old former Rangers striker also has a personal goal, to take the opportunity of the absence of Garry O’Connor and Derek Riordan,on international duty in Spain, to stake his claim for a regular place in boss Tony Mowbray’s starting line-up.

And Dobbie will return to Tynecastle leaner and stronger having embarked on a stiff fitness regime to make up the ground he lost in missing the first two weeks’ of pre-season training because of injury.

He said: "I had a wee chat with the gaffer and as a result I’m doing a bit of extra work every day and an hour or two on my days off.

"It’s no problem, it’s just a matter of working with our fitness coach Dougie Fowler to get a bit fitter and I am certainly feeling a bit leaner. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will be even stronger."

No matter how well he does tomorrow, Dobbie fully expects O’Connor and Riordan to form Hibs’ strikeforce when Mowbray’s side face Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Pittodrie the following Saturday, the pair having claimed seven goals between them already this season.

He admitted he’d have no complaint if that were to be Mowbray’s decision but he insisted that with so many players missing from Hibs’ line-up - Gary Caldwell, Scott Brown, Steven Whittaker and Colin Murdock are also on international duty while Gary Smith, Kevin Thomson, Stephen Glass and Alen Orman are all injured - the opportunity is there for others to catch the manager’s eye.

Hearts, too, will be missing a host of recognised first-team players for the same reasons, giving the sides which start tomorrow’s game something of a strange look for those fans unfamiliar with the clubs’ reserve sides.

But having lifted the East of Scotland Shield with a side totally comprised of players still eligible to play under-21 football while Hearts fielded experienced stars such as Patrick Kisnorbo, Neil MacFarlane, Craig Gordon and Dennis Wyness, Dobbie is optimistic they can add the Festival Cup.

He said: "We did very well in the Shield match, winning 3-1 with goals from myself, Sam Morrow and Dean Shiels which was very pleasing especially as we had taken a good support to Tynecastle.

"Hearts had a more experienced side out which was a good test for us as we had a lot of young boys in our team. We approached the game in the right way and got a good result.

"Hopefully we can now go on and produce a similar display tomorrow. Hearts won the Festival Cup at Easter Road last summer so it would be nice to go across to their place and win it this year. Both sides are obviously going to be missing quite a number of recognised first-team players for one reason or another but for the players who do play this will be a chance for them to stake a claim for a place in their respective sides.

"Garry and Derek have been scoring goals for us so there’s no complaint from me about having to sit on the bench but, with Tam McManus having gone on loan to Boston United, there’s perhaps the chance for me to take a wee step up and push myself into the manager’s thoughts by scoring a goal or two."

Tomorrow’s match, of course, is being dedicated to the "Prince of Wingers", Gordon Smith who, as part of Hibs’ Famous Five, won three League Championship medals at Easter Road, before winning the title with both Hearts and Dundee.

And the Hibs youngsters all recognise Smith’s contribution to the club thanks to the exhibition marking his life and career which is being staged at Easter Road (Sundays 2-4pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-8pm).

Dobbie said: "It’s a fantastic exhibition. He was a Hibs legend and it was nice to see all those old players come on for a round of applause during last weekend’s match at Easter Road.

"All the boys here have stopped to have a look - more than once - at all the artifacts and memorabilia.

"It gives you a real sense of the history of the club and the realisation that if we can achieve even half of what Gordon Smith did then we’ll have done very well indeed."

Taken from the Scotsman

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