Hibernian assistant manager Adam Owen insists the team will relish the challenge of trying to defy the odds in Wednesday’s glamour European clash with Aston Villa.
After seeing off Raith Rovers in a hard-fought 2-1 Viaplay Cup last-16 tie on Sunday, Hibs can now turn their full attention to their Europa Conference League play-off first leg against their English top-flight counterparts.
Former Hibs favourite John McGinn’s return to Easter Road as Villa captain is also an exciting sub-plot to the game and Owen insists the Leith side are looking forward to the battle.
He said: “The anticipation of the game has probably been bubbling around outside the club rather than in the club.
“We have been going from one place to another, travelling, playing, recovering, travelling, playing, recovering. You don’t really think about it until it’s your next game.
“We go in with an underdog mentality. I’ve always quite enjoyed that, to be honest with you.
“From where we are the lads are looking forward to it, the staff are looking forward to it.
“We will be well prepared and we are really pleased we managed to get through this one without extra time with the squad rotation being a big part of that. Everyone is looking forward to it.”
Asked specifically about Scotland international McGinn, Owen said: “Obviously ex-players’ names are going to be brought up but they have a fantastic squad of players so we’re fully aware of the challenge it brings.”
Hibs made hard work of overcoming Raith to reach the quarter-finals. Following a nondescript first half Elie Youan powered home a header from Joe Newell’s corner before Callum Smith levelled for the visitors.
But Dylan Vente scored the winner in the 69th minute after climbing off the bench.
The Dutchman, however, was forced off in stoppage time with a bloodied nose after being caught by a high boot from Liam Dick, which earned the Raith defender a red card.
Raith manager Ian Murray was pleased with how his team performed despite the result.
He said: “I was very happy, I thought we played really well at times in the game, particularly after the first 10 minutes.
“Hibs had all the ball and then we pretty much controlled the second half, I felt, in terms of our passing.
“I said to the players before the game, the result will take care of itself, we just want to come here and play well and show everybody how good we can be as individuals and as a team. I thought we did that.”