Hibernian Ladies have been prepared since January for the departures of Lizzie Arnot and Kirsty Smith says head coach Grant Scott.
Hibs announced that both Scottish internationals, 22 year old striker Arnot and 24 year old right back Smith would be leaving the Edinburgh club last week. Their destinations are yet to be confirmed.
Scott has faith in the players remaining for the second half of the season, as plans were put in place at the beginning of the campaign. Scott said: “We’ve had an eye on this potential happening since January, so a couple of additional players were brought in.”
Arnot is a loss that is possibly easier to quantify. The 22 year old has found the net eight times this season in the league. Although, fellow forward Abi Harrison has scored 11 times. So Hibs won’t be left completely without a goal scorer.
With the league now into its summer break until the end of the month, Hibs will return looking to heap pressure on serial champions Glasgow City.
Both sides are undefeated, only dropping points to each other after playing out two draws earlier this season. City have played a game more, leaving them three points ahead, and also possess a better goal difference – a five goal gap.
While Scott acknowledges there is much work still to be done, he believes his team have the talent required to unseat a Glasgow City side who have won the previous eleven Scottish Women’s Premier League One titles.
Scott said: “They are still in the driving seat, we aren’t overly confident but we are confident enough to believe we can push them all the way.”
Hibs currently sit nine points ahead of third place Celtic, with a game in hand, but Scott will not write off any of the teams behind his squad until it’s mathematically impossible from Hibs to be caught. “We need to respect the other teams in the league.”
While Scott believes the size and quality of the squad is something he is happy with, he wouldn’t completely rule out any arrivals: “I still have an eye on one or two, of course, that’s just normal evolution of a squad.”
The summer break can be either an unwanted distraction or a much needed breath of fresh air for teams. For Hibs, Scott believes it’s a bit of both, although he leaned more in favour of the break being helpful.
Scott said: “I think in all honesty the break is needed. This might work in our favour.” Scott believes the rest for remaining players and the chance to process both Arnot and Smith leaving are benefits.
With many games still to play, no one is getting ahead of themselves, but if things carry on the way they’ve been going, the league could be set for a mouth-watering clash come October 21st.
Glasgow City will host Hibs in a game that could be crucial in deciding who is the eventual victor in the SBSSWPL 1 this term. On the second last day of the season, no less. Scott said: “Ultimately that is probably going to be a league deciding match one way or another.”
“If that were to be the case, what a brilliant scenario for all involved at both clubs and the league as a whole.”
Of course, for this fixture to have any kind of deciding factor, it’s likely one of these sides will need to break the stalemate they’ve been stuck in all season.
City have the advantage of playing at home a second time, although Hibs may take confidence in the fact an away fixture may heap the pressure on their opponents. However, it’s not to be forgotten there are multiple games for both sides to tackle before they meet again.
A potential league decider is bound to draw attention to Scottish Women’s Football, especially with the chance that Hibs could finally knock Glasgow City off their long held throne.