FORMER Hibs midfielder Michael Weir feels the Easter Road club could be playing Celtic at the right time when they travel to Parkhead on Sunday in the pursuit of Premiership points.
Neil Lennon’s men had to battle through stamina-sapping condition at rain-lashed Hampden at the weekend with only 10 men for more than a third of the dramatic Betfred League Cup Final against Rangers.
Jeremie Frimpong was red-carded as he pulled back Alfredo Morelos in the 63rd minute – shortly after Christopher Jullien had scored the only goal of the encounter on the hour mark – and the Colombian saw Fraser Forster save the resultant penalty-kick.
The towering keeper came to the Hoops’ rescue on several occasions and the ex-Easter Road favourite reckons some of the champions’ performers looked fatigued on the heavy going.
Jack Ross saw his players thump Aberdeen 3-0 in Edinburgh 24 hours earlier and will have a week off while the Glasgow side travel to Romania on Thursday to play their final Europa League Group E game against Cluj.
Weir, speaking to the Evening News, said: “Neil Lennon’s players will be on a high following their Betfred Cup victory over Rangers, a tenth successive trophy is a fantastic achievement. But I thought Celtic looked a bit ‘leggy’ at Hampden, a shade tired having played a lot of games.
“I thought the signs were there the previous week when they scored with the last kick of the ball to beat Hamilton at home.
ON THE RUN…Scott Allan races away from his former Celtic team-mate Scott Brown in the 1-1 draw at Easter Road.
“Celtic also have their final Europa League group match away to Cluj in Romania to play on Thursday night and while they might elect to rest a few of their big players given they are already assured of being in the knock-out stages, it’s still a long way to go and travelling can, as we’ve often seen, have an impact the following weekend.
“Celtic have faced that scenario often enough, of course, but it’s something Hibs have to try to capitalise on. The players will have taken confidence from their display against the Dons and now have to have a real go at Celtic.
“Parkhead is always a difficult place to go, but Hibs’ record there is as good as most clubs and I think the important thing is we just go there and play our own game.
“As I’ve said, Jack Ross is still learning about his players and he’ll certainly learn an awful lot more over the course of the next two or three weeks, but Hibs are in good form and should have the belief they can go there and get a positive result.
“You can’t afford to give a team like Celtic too much respect, to stand off them and let them play, but, as we saw against Aberdeen, we’ve got the sort of attack-minded players capable of hurting any opposition.
“Celtic’s defence looked a bit suspect against Rangers – they were thankful Fraser Forster had a blinder in goal for them – and we should be looking to test them with the pace of Martin Boyle and the movement of Flo Kamberi.”
It will be the third meeting of the clubs in this campaign with the champions dropping two points in the 1-1 draw in Leith in September, but they turned the tables in the Betfred League Cup semi-finals in a 5-3 triumph at the start of last month – Paul Heckingbottom’s last game charge of the club.