Alan Stubbs dismisses talk of Hibernian lacking "bottle"

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland
Hibs manager Alan Stubbs
Alan Stubbs' Hibs side have won twice at Ibrox this season

Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs has dismissed the notion the Easter Road side lack "bottle" on the big occasion.

Hibs have lost two recent Scottish Cup finals and last season's Premiership play-off final against Hamilton.

But Stubbs and his captain Liam Craig are confident they can disprove their critics against Rangers on Wednesday.

The manager told BBC Scotland: "They've got the ability to do it and they believe they can do it. When you've got that, it's not about bottle."

Rangers are at home for the first leg of the Scottish Premiership semi-final, with the return leg in the capital on Saturday at midday.

Despite losing Scottish Cup finals to Hearts and Celtic in the last three years, and being relegated by Hamilton last year, Stubbs is adamant his players can cope with the pressure.

"I know what I've got in the dressing room and I am behind them 100%," he said.

Matches between Hibernian and Rangers in season 2014-15
5 AugustScottish Challenge CupRangers 2-1 Hibernian
29 SeptemberScottish ChampionshipRangers 1-3 Hibernian
27 DecemberScottish ChampionshipHibernian 4-0 Rangers
13 FebruaryScottish ChampionshipRangers 0-2 Hibernian
22 MarchScottish ChampionshipHibernian 0-2 Rangers

"I know they are right behind me. That's the most important thing.

"They've got a belief, they know that they can do it.

"When you've seen us play this season, getting on the ball in positions where they've got on the ball, that's bottle.

"People can say what they want, but I know what they are as players and as people and they [the critics] couldn't be any further from the mark."

While Hibs' last match was a 3-0 win at Falkirk on 2 May, Rangers negotiated a two-legged quarter-final win over Queen of the South.

The lengthy break, during which the squad went for a week's training in Spain, has been ideal, claims Stubbs, and that he "probably wouldn't have changed anything".

Alan Stubbs passes on instructions to Fraser Fyvie
Alan Stubbs passes on instructions to Fraser Fyvie during Rangers' 2-0 Championship win at Easter Road in March

"We've had double sessions for four of the five days," he continued.

"If anything, we've had to pull the players back a little bit because they wanted to do extra."

Stubbs is wary of Stuart McCall's side, predicting "two really tough games", and his assessment of Rangers is that they have "definitely improved" and are "a lot more organised and disciplined".

However, he stresses there will be no change to their attacking intent.

"We have a way of playing and that is trying to be positive as much as possible," he insisted.

"We like to express ourselves. I give them the licence to do that.

"We want to win the game. I think that is the best way to go about it. The game will not necessarily be won or lost in the first tie."

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