James Tavernier believes Philippe Clement is facing selection headaches after returning Rangers to the top of the cinch Premiership on Sunday.

Amid a busy fixture schedule, the Belgian boss again reshuffled his pack for the tense trip to St Johnstone, this time with five changes.

The 32-year-old Gers skipper scored two late penalties to add to Mohamed Diomande’s first-half opener in the 3-0 win.

Victory moved the Light Blues above Celtic at the top of the table, after being seven points behind their Old Firm rivals when Clement took over from Michael Beale in October.

Substitutes Dujon Sterling and Tom Lawrence won the spot-kicks to allow Tavernier to score his 18th and 19th goals of the season, 120 in total since arriving in Govan in 2015.

With the league, the Scottish Cup and Europa League still available – and the Viaplay Cup already in the Ibrox trophy room – Tavernier spoke about the strength in depth of the Rangers squad.

The full-back said: “It gives us huge confidence because what people don’t see is on the training ground we are all pushing each other and everyone is asking to be in the starting 11 and anybody who is asked to come on the pitch is putting in really good performances.

“So it is a headache for the gaffer to select the XI but anyone he selects is doing a really good job for the team and that is the main thing.

“As the gaffer said, we are creating a story together and we need everyone to chip in until the end of the season.

“It is a great place for the fans and the club.

“We feed off our performances and how well we are playing as a team, not letting teams get a shot on target against us.

“That’s what we aim for – the clean sheets and the variety of chances we are creating now is really pleasing, we are always asking questions.

“The scoreline could have been more and I am delighted it was 3-0, clean sheet and on to the next one. We always had belief in our team, the players that we have.

“The gaffer came in and upped the bar with the way we are playing, the demand that he wants for us all.

“We need to continue, not become complacent and keep demanding because there is still a long way to go in the competitions we are in and we just want to make the fans happy and us happy with our performances.”

Clement talked positively about the leaders he has in the dressing room and Tavernier agrees.

“We have great leaders in the squad,” he added. “We all feed off each other and the manager believes in the leadership and we continue to amplify his message towards the lads.

“It starts every day at training, really pushing our standards but there is no place for being complacent. We need to keep pushing ourselves to be better.”

Tavernier admitted that his goals tally was unthinkable when he arrived from Wigan almost nine years ago.

“Especially as I had only eight or nine goals before I joined Rangers,” he said.

“It’s obviously a great achievement. I just want to keep helping the team and pushing myself and see where it ends when I eventually hang up my boots one day.

“I was delighted with the three points we got on Sunday as well as the clean sheet. They didn’t have a shot on goal, which is the most important thing.”

Philippe Clement insists he will not be left short in the left-back position for the season’s run-in amid speculation about Ridvan Yilmaz’s future.

Reports claim the Ibrox club rejected a loan-to-buy offer in the region of €4m (£3.4million) from Galatasaray for the 22-year-old Turkey international, who has also been linked with Hellas Verona.

The Light Blues’ other left-back, fit-again Borna Barisic, is out of contract at the end of the season.

Speaking after the 2-2 friendly draw with FC Copenhagen at Ibrox – where goals from Rabbi Matondo and Cyriel Dessers was cancelled by a Kevin Diks header and a Johnly Yfeko own goal – the Rangers boss addressed the speculation about Yilmaz.

Clement also revealed that the injury midfielder Kieran Dowell picked up in the club’s January training camp in Spain is set to keep him out for two months.

Clement said: “For every player at Rangers, if there comes an offer that cannot be refused or is a good thing for the club then we need to discuss it.

“At the moment that is not the case. Ridvan is here and he started the game.

“We will see. Players also need to show they really want to be here in the next couple of months.

“We need to be prepared for everything, for every position also and make sure that we have solutions.

“That is one position that we have two players. One is end of contract, the other one there is a lot of rumours around.

“So it is clear that we need to be ready for that position. We cannot go on in three competitions with one left full-back. That is correct. And in other positions it is the same.”

Clement was pleased to see Ryan Jack, Tom Lawrence and Barisic get some game time in the second half against the Danish side after recovering from their respective injuries but Dowell is a concern.

The midfielder has made just 11 appearances for the Light Blues since joining on a free transfer from Norwich this summer.

Ahead of the Scottish Cup tie against Dumbarton on Saturday, Clement said: “Kieran Dowell was not here because he got injured in La Manga.

“He will be out for several weeks, I think around two months.

“That’s long term and that’s a big blow.”

Celtic have signed winger Nicolas Kuhn from Rapid Vienna for an undisclosed fee.

The 24-year-old has signed a five-and-a-half-year deal at Parkhead.

Manager Brendan Rodgers told the club’s website: “We are delighted to welcome Nicolas to Celtic. We believe he is a dynamic player who has an excellent level of quality and all the attributes to fit well into our style of play.

“He has a real attacking intent, a player with great pace and ideas, the ability to create and score goals and a player with a great energy and work ethic.

“He is someone who can play wide on both sides so he brings with him that versatility for us too.”

Kuhn added: “I’m really excited and I can’t wait to play out here. It’s unbelievable and I don’t really have words. This is what every footballer dreams of.

“I can play on the left, as a second striker or as a number 10. Most of the time, though, I have played on the right wing.

“I am really motivated to do well for this great club and I want to get working immediately as we face our challenges in the league and the cup this year, so I’m really excited for what’s coming.”

The Scottish Football Association has hit back at Rangers as the row over a non-penalty incident at Celtic Park continues.

Celtic defender Alistair Johnston appeared to handle the ball inside the area in the first half of the cinch Premiership clash at Parkhead on December 30 while under pressure from Gers forward Abdallah Sima.

Referee Nick Walsh pointed for a goal kick and the decision was confirmed by VAR official Willie Collum following a check.

It later emerged through Sky Sports – broadcasting the match live – that there had been an offside in the build-up and Rangers claimed that was never mentioned during the VAR analysis.

The Ibrox club called on the SFA to release the audio of the incident and following a meeting with the governing body on Wednesday, Rangers said there was “an overriding consensus the VAR decision of no handball was incorrect”.

The Govan club also added they were “deeply concerned” by the speed of the decision and there were reports that the club had requested that Collum not be involved in Rangers games going forward.

However, in a lengthy statement the SFA said: “The Scottish FA is disappointed by contents of the most recent statement issued by Rangers.

“Chief executive James Bisgrove and director of football operations Creag Robertson attended a private briefing with the head of referee operations, Crawford Allan, to review the incident in question, including the use of matchday audio.

“We understood from the chief executive that the meeting had been constructive and informative, and conducted amicably. This does not appear to be reflected in the club’s statement.

“During the meeting, it was pointed out that the incident in question was a subjective handball and that the VAR did not deem it a sufficiently clear and obvious error to refer to on-field review.

“Furthermore, the offside would not have been mentioned at the time as it was not part of the VAR’s decision-making on the handball.

“It was highlighted within Clydesdale House that had the VAR considered the incident to be a handball offence and asked the referee to carry out an on-field review, the attacking phase of play would have been checked and an offside would have been identified.

“This supplementary information was relayed to broadcasters in-game, and we are reviewing the process of information dissemination to avoid any perceived ambiguity in future.

“There was an overall consensus that the incident could not have led to a penalty kick being awarded in any event, and that there was no impact on the final outcome of the match.”

The statement continued: “Since the summer, we have ensured that key match incidents [KMI] are reviewed and shared with all clubs after every full round of Premiership fixtures, including use of audio.

“We will continue to do this, along with KMI being shared with the independent review panel for their consideration and opinion.

“Finally, we note posts from a recent official media partner of the club’s detailing requests from the private meeting that were immediately rejected.

“We would ask that club representatives show greater responsibility in such matters, especially in the context of recent incidents in European football that have compromised the safety of match officials and led to widespread condemnation.”

The latter comments comes after former MKE Ankaragucu president Faruk Koca was recently given a permanent suspension for punching referee Halil Umut Meler after his side’s draw with Caykur Rizespor in the Turkish Super Lig.

Philippe Clement is “still curious” about the potential of Rangers after they went into the winter break with a bounce-back 3-1 win over Kilmarnock and still on the heels of Celtic.

The Belgian had lost his first game as Gers boss since taking over in October in the narrow 2-1 Old Firm defeat at Parkhead on Saturday but late first-half goals from wide-men Ross McCausland and Abdallah Sima at Ibrox on Tuesday had the Light Blues in control at the break.

Danny Armstrong reduced the deficit in the 58th minute with a penalty awarded after VAR intervention but Todd Cantwell soon restored the two-goal cushion to keep them eight points behind cinch Premiership leaders Celtic with two games in hand.

The Gers players will enjoy a few days off before going to Spain for a training camp next week.

Clement has already brought the Viaplay Cup back to Ibrox and guided the club into the last 16 of the Europa League and was asked about the potential of his squad.

He said: “I am still curious. I am happy that you speak now about the potential of this team.

“Eleven weeks ago, I heard a lot of people saying there was not potential enough in this team to do what Rangers needs to do.

“So it is positive that so many players are  growing, and that is what I want to see. I will keep a close eye, together with my staff, on who are the players staying ambitious, who are the players who are pushing. There are a lot of good examples in that way.

“You have a young lad (Ross McCausland)  who was just in the academy and now he is playing really regular in the first team because he is performing.

“Kieran Dowell, Dujon Sterling, who are now playing in other positions. They have done that for the team, or else they wouldn’t play.

“So, I think this team is in a really good way. The dressing room also.

“The atmosphere every day within the building, with the training, the ambition in the training.

“After our first defeat, which we knew would come one day, the reaction was how I wanted it. We looked at what we had to do to make good, to analyse what went wrong, what we could do better.

“I’m happy that everybody is saying they see a different team now with more of a winning mentality.

“I see more and more quality and that the team understands better and better how I want to see football, how I want to see them run together, how I want them to create spaces for other players. It becomes more and more fluid.

“If the players keep on working, stay attentive, stay concentrated then after a while it becomes more natural for them.

“So there are really positive things. It’s not about being satisfied. It’s about being ambitious to get better.”

Philippe Clement was left puzzled after Rangers conceded a rare penalty in the 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox.

The Ibrox club had called for more transparency over VAR’s interpretation of handball after there had been no spot-kick awarded after the ball had come off Celtic defender Alistair Johnston’s hand inside the box in the 2-1 defeat at Parkhead on Saturday.

Rangers were leading 2-0 against fourth-place Killie through goals by Ross McCausland and Abdallah Sima when VAR called for a penalty check after Rory McKenzie’s cross struck the arm of Gers defender John Souttar inside the box.

Referee John Beaton went to his pitchside monitor and then pointed to the spot, with Danny Armstrong giving Jack Butland no chance before Todd Cantwell restored the two-goal lead to keep the Light Blues eight points behind Celtic with two games in hand.

It was the first penalty Rangers had conceded in 75 cinch Premiership matches since Lewis Ferguson netted for Aberdeen in a 1-1 draw in January 2022

Clement told Rangers TV: “The only downside for me is that I cannot explain to my players anymore what is handball and what is not after this game if we get a penalty against like this and a goal against like this three days after what happened at Celtic Park.

“I can’t give them an explanation and that’s different as a manager when you cannot give an explanation.

“It’s not easy. Afterwards, we can laugh and it’s not a big difference, it’s 3-0 or 3-1.

“Just for the future, it needs to be clear for everybody what is handball and what is not handball and these two situations it’s a little bit bizarre.”

Rangers have requested that the audio of the VAR penalty incident in the 2-1 defeat at Celtic be released by the Scottish Football Association.

Celtic full-back Alistair Johnston appeared to handle the ball inside his own box in the first half of the cinch Premiership encounter at Parkhead under pressure from Gers attacker Abdallah Sima.

A goal-kick was awarded by referee Nick Walsh and the check by VAR official Willie Collum for handball came to nothing but it later emerged through Sky Sports, who were broadcasting the match live, that there had been an offside in the build-up.

Gers boss Philippe Clement said afterwards: “There was no communication towards me. And if the communication is that Sima is offside, I’m not a referee – but there should have been a clear signal from VAR for offside.”

A Rangers spokesperson said: “Rangers have asked the Scottish FA to make the VAR audio available to the club to understand why no penalty was awarded despite a clear handball by Celtic’s Alistair Johnston.

“The club is keen to understand the process that led to that decision being made as it was not made public at the time, nor communicated to our team.

“We also understand Sky, as the league’s official broadcaster, is deeply unhappy and confused with the situation.

“Their panel spent half-time in agreement Rangers should have been awarded a penalty, unaware of any offside check. Again, this only surfaced in the second half.

“Rangers remains advocates of VAR, but there must be significantly more transparency for it to be successful in Scotland.”

Graeme Shinnie is desperate to lift the Viaplay Cup trophy as Aberdeen captain after being on the losing side the last time the Dons won it almost a decade ago.

The 32-year-old was playing for Inverness when they lost on penalties to the Pittodrie side in the League Cup final following a goalless draw at Celtic Park in March 2014.

Shinnie and his Caley Thistle colleagues bounced back to win the Scottish Cup by beating Falkirk just over a year later in what was his last game as captain of the Highland outfit before joining Aberdeen for his first spell.

Now back at Pittodrie for a second stint after a couple of years in England, the skipper would love to win his first trophy in Aberdeen colours by defeating Rangers at Hampden on Sunday.

“In football lifting trophies is some of the best memories you’ll ever have, as Aberdeen fans know from the 2014 cup final,” he told Aberdeen TV.

“It wasn’t a great final, was it? It was a bit nervy, nobody really wanted to attack and take the game by the scruff of the neck. And to lose that on penalties was a blow for Inverness.

“At that time we were flying high, we were a good team. We had almost built up to that moment and missing out at that time at Inverness, it probably felt like our best opportunity had gone.

“But luckily we got another one, and to lift the Scottish Cup at that age, 23, was a great feeling and a great honour.

“It happened so early in my career, it feels like a long time ago but at the end of my career, that is a moment I’ll look back on.

“If I could get my hands on the other cup now, it would be a cup double which would be great memories to look back on.”

Aberdeen are in the bottom half of the cinch Premiership with just four wins from their 15 league matches so far.

However, their form in the cup, allied to some strong performances in Europe, gives them hope that they can pull off an upset against a Rangers side they have already taken four points from in their two league meetings.

“Form doesn’t matter,” he said. “Cup games are very different. It’s a different game, there’s a prize at the end of it, there’s a different atmosphere in the ground, it’s at Hampden so it’s a neutral venue.

“I think we all know as a squad that we’re not where we want to be in terms of our league form, it’s not been good enough.

“Have we found it tough after some of the European games? Probably. It’s been a different challenge for the squad, but we need to do better. I think throughout the season there has been a lot of good performances, especially in Europe.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t take more out of the games because performance-wise some of them have been very good. We obviously beat Rangers away which was another top performance but we’ve let ourselves down in some of the other matches.

“It’s that kind of form we need to change but going into a cup final, the full focus is on trying to win the game and win the trophy so it’s a little bit of a different mindset.”

Aberdeen top goalscorer Bojan Miovski remains at the centre of a fitness concern ahead of the Viaplay Cup final on Sunday.

Manager Barry Robson has not ruled the striker out of Thursday’s Europa Conference League game against Eintracht Frankfurt at Pittodrie. He played 77 minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Hearts, scoring his 12th goal of the season.

But with no chance of qualifying for the knockout stages and silverware at stake against Rangers on Sunday, it appears inconceivable that the North Macedonia international would be risked against the German outfit.

Robson said: “We are still waiting on Bojan. We will see how he is in the morning when he gets up. Hopefully nothing too serious but we will make a decision on him on Thursday.

“It’s a hamstring issue. We will try to give him every opportunity. It’s not a serious injury. It’s not going to hold him back long term. It’s hours and days rather than weeks so we will see how he is in the morning.”

Robson made eight changes for the recent draw with HJK Helsinki and he looks set to shuffle his pack for the final European tie.

“We have a group of players who I believe in,” he said. “We need to make sure we use as many players as we can in a squad.

“In Helsinki, we took some players in and they performed really well. We just have to make sure as a squad we perform well over the next two games.

“As staff and manager that’s what we are trying to do, to make everyone as fresh as we can for the two games.”

While Robson is planning ahead for Sunday, he is keen to ensure his players are not thinking of Hampden.

“Listen, it’s not in my mind,” he said. “You are playing against Eintracht Frankfurt, one of the great sides in European football. So me and the players have to fully focus on that.

“We are not naive enough to think we don’t have to perform, because this is a big game, against some top players, so we have to be at our best.”

Midfielder Dante Polvara is eager to make the most of the chance to face the 2021 Europa League winners.

“It’s a chance to play for the club and for a lot of people to show what they can do,” he said.

“I will be just as excited for Thursday as I will be for Sunday. Of course Sunday holds other weight with us not being able to advance on Thursday but it’s going to be a privelege to play here and play against Frankfurt.

“You always want to impress no matter the occasion and even more so playing in a European game. It is a huge privilege and going toe to toe with the really big boys is an honour and something I am really excited for.

“And I am sure individually a lot of boys will be looking forward to showing what they can bring to the table.”

Liam Boyce has extended his current deal at Hearts until the summer of 2025 with Jambos fans told to “watch this space” for more good signing news.

The 32-year-old Northern Ireland striker has returned to the first-team fold following a lengthy injury lay-off and his appearances this season have triggered a year’s option in his contract.

Boyce joined Hearts in January, 2020 and has scored 36 times in 107 appearances.

Sporting director Joe Savage told the club’s official website: “Boycie’s contract extension is great news and a testament to his drive and determination.

“Our plan was always to give him the time he needed to come back feeling fit and then reintegrate him into the first-team scene.

“There was never any pressure, it was about making sure Boycie had the best chance to get back to the level he’s capable of.

“I think everybody can see he’s achieved that. He’s an influential player on and off the pitch so for him to trigger his contract extension is pleasing for everyone.

“There’s been lots of positivity around the club recently thanks to the first-team’s winning run, moving up to third in the league and also Steven (Naismith) and Lawrence Shankland’s awards (manager and player of the month for November respectively) and  Boycie’s contract extension adds to it and we’re hopeful of sorting out a few more, so watch this space.”

Naismith said: “Boycie’s experience is invaluable inside the dressing room and we’re all delighted that he’s going to be here for a further year.

“I know from experience how difficult it is to return from a long-term injury but he has taken everything in his stride and you can see when he’s out on the pitch that it’s not affected him, he’s a quality player.

“Competition for places is fierce and having top talent like Boycie challenging for a spot only helps push standards even higher.”

Stenhousemuir climbed up to second in Scottish League Two after a 2-0 win over leaders Peterhead.

The hosts went ahead after 23 minutes when Kinlay Bilham’s cross was tapped home by Michael Anderson.

Five minutes later Adam Brown took aim from outside the area and superbly curled the ball into the top corner.

Anderson could have added a third late on but his shot was just too high.

Celtic forward Daizen Maeda faces six weeks out after suffering a knee injury in the challenge that earned him a red card against Atletico Madrid.

Maeda was initially booked following a 50-50 with Mario Hermoso but the yellow card was upgraded to a red following a VAR review.

The Japan attacker had left a leg dangling and Hermoso went down in dramatic fashion after catching Maeda’s studs as he followed through.

Manager Brendan Rodgers said: “Daizen will probably be up to six weeks out with the injury from the challenge. He has strained his medial knee ligament which comes from when you just knock a player on the foot.

“If he was in stronger in the challenge he probably wouldn’t have had the injury. The clash of feet has just opened up the knee ligament.

“It’s a big shame for us because he has been brilliant for me since I came here.

“It’s a big loss because his attitude and mentality going into every game is superb. He initiates the pressure for us at the top end.

“It’s a real shame because he has been like a machine since he came to Celtic, watching him before I arrived and then coming here and seeing what he does every day and in the games, he is incredible. He hasn’t had too many knocks.

“But I always say, it’s an opportunity for someone else to come in and play.”

The injury blow compounded Rodgers’ frustration with the decision to send Maeda off in the 6-0 Champions League defeat.

“You only have to assess the incident. Everyone could see if you know football at all that there was no intention, he was just overstretching and both players clash feet,” he said.

“The irony is that as soon as the red card went up, their player miraculously got up off the floor.”

Lawrence Shankland declared Sunday’s Viaplay Cup semi-final showdown with Rangers a “win at all costs” encounter as he looked forward to his first trip to Hampden with Hearts.

The Jambos skipper began his senior career playing regularly at the national stadium when he spent time on loan at Queen’s Park more than a decade ago, while he has also represented Scotland there.

The 28-year-old’s only experience of a big cup match at Hampden came when he played in Dundee United’s 2-0 defeat to Hibernian in the 2021 Scottish Cup semi-final – a result that still irks him.

Shankland is hoping his previous experiences at the famous old ground in Glasgow’s southside can help him reach the first major final of his career this weekend.

“It will be great to lead the team out at Hampden, I’m really looking forward to that part and hopefully we can get ourselves to a final,” he said.

“Last time I was at Hampden I was at Dundee United and we lost in a semi-final and that still annoys me. It’s my first experience going with Hearts and it’s one I’m looking forward to.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play there quite a lot in my career with Scotland and at club level as well so it’s a stadium I’m used to. Quite a lot of the boys have got the experience before of being at Hampden so hopefully we can use that on the day.”

Asked to sum up what is required from Hearts on Sunday, Shankland said: “Win at all costs. That’s it for us. The task is simple. It’s a big occasion at the national stadium and it’s just all about winning.”

Hearts face Rangers a week after they almost beat them in the cinch Premiership. The Jambos led 1-0 for most of the match and looked on course for a rare Ibrox victory before conceding two late goals to lose 2-1. Shankland believes that experience will stand them in good stead for Sunday.

“We’re coming off the back of a good performance at Ibrox last weekend, albeit the last 10 minutes didn’t go to plan,” he said. “Apart from that it was really good and we can take the positives from that into this game. There was a lot to be happy with.

“Obviously the mistakes we made at the end were probably a reminder of how much you need to concentrate against teams as dangerous as Rangers.

“It takes full concentration for every minute you’re on the pitch so we can use last week as a reminder and make sure it’s in our heads at all points in the match.”

Rangers manager Philippe Clement played down the significance of an early trophy win for himself as he prepares for the Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hearts on Sunday.

The Belgian is unbeaten in four games since taking over as Gers boss from Michael Beale last month and in general the early signs have been encouraging for Light Blues fans, who watched their side thrash Dundee 5-0 away in the cinch Premiership on Wednesday night.

A victory over the Jambos at Hampden Park would set up a Viaplay Cup final meeting in December against either Aberdeen or Hibernian, with the chance of winning the first available silverware of the season.

However, the former Genk, Club Brugge and Monaco manager insists he is not preoccupied with personal glory.

Clement said: “No, honestly I am totally not busy with that.

“I do this job because I love to do things with people together.  I love to make players better, to guide them and to put my passion as a player into other people, because my body can’t do that on the pitch anymore.

“I’m not busy with my career and where I want to go. I have won trophies in my career, but the satisfaction is having this with the players and staff.

“I love the joy football can give people, like in Dundee after the final whistle you see all these people so happy.

“That is why I love to be a manager, with my players, staff and supporters. It’s about that, not my personal thing.”

Clement stressed the importance of football courage throughout his squad as he looked for further improvement on the back of a convincing win on Tayside.

He said: “I want my players to be ambitious, the medals will come if you do the correct things.

“We need to be brave and not be afraid to make mistakes – it is important how you react afterwards and that is what I want to give to my players.

“As a coach, you need to invest in your players and see the qualities they have and build on this.

“You need to see potential and give them the tools to develop themselves.

“I want my players to be ambitious to become better. It’s not like it was a perfect performance (in Dundee).

“We can do things better than this performance. But you see they’re starting to understand the story we want to do so it becomes more fluid.

“Also, more players stepping in and getting experience in how to move together, what to do with and without the ball. We need to strengthen the team and let them grow like this.”

Nick Montgomery has challenged Hibernian to take a big step towards more cup glory by eliminating Aberdeen in Saturday’s Viaplay Cup semi-final.

The Hibees last won a trophy in 2016 when they claimed the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years, while they last got their hands on the League Cup in 2007.

Current left-back Lewis Stevenson, 35, was involved in both of those triumphs while club captain Paul Hanlon, 33, played in the most recent one.

Both players are in contention to start against the Dons this weekend as the Hibees bid to set up a final showdown with city rivals Hearts or Rangers.

“There’s a lot of history at the club,” said Montgomery. “The past is the past but there are some great memories there.

“Now there is an opportunity for some of the players who have been there before to try and get to that moment again and for some of the players who have never been there to try and get to that moment.

“Any time you get to a cup final, it’s something to look back on in your career. Right now it’s 90 minutes plus extra time or whatever it is, and we’ll give everything we’ve got to try and make sure we get to the final.”

Montgomery, who was appointed Hibs boss in September, is looking forward to leading his team to Hampden less than two months after his first trip to the national stadium.

“I’ve never played or managed there,” he said. “The first time I visited was the Scotland v England game when I first arrived here in Scotland.

“I’m really looking forward to leading the team out tomorrow. It’s a special occasion at a special stadium and I’m looking forward to seeing plenty of our fans there in full voice.”

Hibs have drawn five of their seven league matches under Montgomery, with one win and one defeat.

“We’ve had a couple of draws that I feel we played well enough to win in and we’ve let a two-goal lead slip twice so it’s something we have to fix because getting into the lead is not easy,” he said.

“We have to be more resilient in terms of holding on to those leads. I think we’ve played some good football but there’s plenty improvement to make, especially in terms of concentration.

“You have to concentrate for the full game, especially defensively, like we did against Celtic (when drawing 0-0 last weekend). We have to make sure we do that every game because we know we’ve got goals in the team.

“For me, it’s been eight weeks of learning about the team, the players, the individuals and myself, and I think we’re close to being a good team. What we have to do now is turn those draws into wins but that’s all out the window this weekend because there can’t be a draw.”

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