London Hearts Supporters Club

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Experience paid off - Mowbray


TONY MOWBRAY today admitted the Festival Cup clash with Hearts was always going to be a difficult match for Hibs, given that he was forced into fielding a team with an average age of only 19.

International call-ups, injuries and his decision to rest French midfield ace Guillaume Beuzelin resulted in a dozen players being unavailable for the trip to Tynecastle with skipper Ian Murray, returning from nine months on the sidelines, Hibs’ oldest player at the age of just 23.

While admitting Hearts deserved their victory - "the strongest side won on the day" - Mowbray praised the large Hibs support, estimated at around 2500, which helped swell the crowd to a disappointing 7282, for the backing they gave his youngsters.

He said: "I wasn’t sure what team Hearts would put out but I knew it was going to be a difficult game for us and that was confirmed when I saw the two team-sheets.

"But I didn’t have too many more options available. There was really only Guillaume who could have been involved but he’s had a pretty hectic month or so and I felt the best scenario was to leave him out."

Instead Mowbray started with a side containing six teenagers, including 16-year-old Jamie McCluskey, while his bench comprised totally of players under the age of 20.

Mowbray said: "The players who played were all that was left really and it was a learning experience for our youngsters.

"I wanted them to go out and try to express themselves - it was a bigger stage than normal for most of them. You watch and observe to see if any of them can grow in that kind of environment. Hopefully as individuals they will have taken something out of the experience. We have to hold our hands up and say that at the end of the day the stronger side won.

"Personally I’d like to have seen us play better when we had the ball. The frustration for me was that when we had the ball we did not play better than we did, that’s the disappointing factor."

However, Mowbray described the encouragement given to the youngsters by the green-and-white army as "impressive."

He said: "It’s always disappointing to lose to your local rivals but the way they got behind us was terrific, they were in good voice throughout. We are disappointed we couldn’t have given them more to shout about but they’d see how young a side we had out. Hopefully the supporters can see what we are trying to do and how we are trying to build a team but that will take time with young players."

Taken from the Scotsman

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