As we wait for the definitive news about who is fit and who isn’t for the weekend we should bear in mind that fitness comes in different forms. You can be game fit but not match fit.
I suspect that our players – Abada and Hatate foremost amongst them – aren’t anywhere near match fit. I could be wrong. Perhaps Ange has worked these guys in training and they are much more ready for 90 minutes at Hampden than we think … but probably not.
We may, therefore, be somewhat surprised by the line-up. This is where Ange’s talent for game management might well be important to the outcome.
Do you play Hatate and Abada from the start, and go for Shock And Awe?
That’s a strategy that might well pay off, because I think the Ibrox defence is weak and if we go for it early we can wrap the game up in no time at all. If it turns into a grind, though, what then?
How long do you keep on the pitch two players who might be toiling?
Equally, we must consider what bringing them into the game late might mean. If the game goes to extra time, do they have the legs for it? Will they be able to compete? Ange knows his stuff, and he knows how big this decision might prove to be.
Certainly there is a good argument for introducing the players as impact subs if you think it will win you the game. This is where the strength in our squad comes to the fore, and I would be perfectly confident whether these guys start or come on later.
But we should not be shocked if he leaves them out, at least at first.
Because we’ve seen what happens when players who aren’t match-fit are thrown into games. We’ve seen it most often across the city, where they are certain to start players who aren’t completely ready … and that will be just one of the things that costs them on the day.