Sam Stanton has fond, yet ultimately bittersweet, memories of playing at Ibrox. The Hibernian midfielder made his debut as a 17-year old in January 2012, when he stepped onto the famous pitch as an 88th minute substitute in a 4-0 loss to Rangers. It was a momentous moment in the young footballer’s career but you have the sense that there is a lingering feeling of unfinished business for the 20-year old.
In an exclusive interview with Rangers Report, Stanton discussed whether he would use that experience to his benefit in Tuesday’s first round Petrofac Training Cup match. “It was a long time ago but obviously I’ve already experienced what its like to play there & I’ve played a couple of youth games there as well.”
“It’s a great venue & I’m looking forward to it.”
There were 44,000+ supporters at that 2012 match…but not so many when Stanton last played at Ibrox. In 2013, Stanton lined up for Hibs U20 side in the fifth round of the SFA Youth Cup against Rangers. Rangers were easy victors that day – winning 5-1 with goals from the likes of Charlie Telfer, Barrie McKay, & Calum Gallagher. It’s pretty safe to say that Stanton will have a bit of revenge in mind when he lines up, yet again, in front of the Ibrox crowd.
He downplays that aspect though. “That match happened & it’s over now.”
“You always look to win the next game & can’t worry about previous games. Now we’ve got to go out tomorrow & win the game.”
Stanton is an up & coming player – who won the SPFL’s Young Player of the Month back in February. He has also featured for Scotland’s U18,U19, & U21 sides. Being part of Scotland’s youth set-up means he has lined up alongside some of Rangers finest young players like Barrie McKay & Lewis MacLeod.
“Yeah, I know a couple of their players…but the main focus is on us & not too much on the Rangers team. We’re concentrating on ourselves”
“It should be a good game. Rangers are obviously real experienced & have some good players. But so have we & we’ll be looking forward to the challenge.”
It was obviously a trying season for Hibs that led to their relegation to the Scottish Championship, but Stanton & some of Hibs other young players have given them hope that they will be able to bounce back in 2014-15.
Stanton made 28 appearances for Hibs last season – 15 as a starter & 13 as a substitute. He scored two goals, both in the second half of the season. One came on a beautiful free kick against Ross County that proves that Rangers need to be wary of set-piece situations on Tuesday.
New manager Alan Stubbs has made it his objective to create a new attitude among the players following the dreary times under the leadership of Terry Butcher.
“He’s told us to be confident, to believe in the ability that the team has & to not think about last season. We need to go out out & show people what we can do.”
What will Hibs have to do in order to to claim victory on Tuesday? For Stanton, it comes down entering the match with a conviction that they can pull off the upset.
“We need to play with confidence & a belief that we can win the game. We need to keep fully concentrated over the 90 minutes because we can’t afford any mistakes & if we get chances – we need to take them.”
A win against Rangers would go a long way to instilling the confidence that Hibs will need to fight for promotion this year, in what may be the most competitive league in Scotland.
“You always want to get on the big stage & play against these big players & big names.”
“There’s not too many bigger stages in Scotland then Ibrox & playing against Rangers. I’m looking forward to that challenge.”