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Cove Rangers: Paul Hartley ready to take on former team-mate Shaun Maloney as he urges side to play their own game against Hibernian

Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley, right, in his playing days with Hibernian management duo Gary Caldwell and Shaun Maloney
Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley, right, in his playing days with Hibernian management duo Gary Caldwell and Shaun Maloney

Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley played with Shaun Maloney for long enough to know how the new Hibernian boss likes to play.

Hartley worked with Maloney for club and country, representing Celtic and Scotland, and the two will go head-to-head in the dugout on Thursday night.

C0ve head into the game as huge underdogs at Easter Road but Hartley’s side, with their 15-game unbeaten run, are one of the most in-form sides in Scotland.

Maloney took his first step into management last month with the Hibees, alongside another of Hartley’s former team-mates Gary Caldwell.

He envisions the capital club playing in the same vein as their new boss.

Paul Hartley also played with Shaun Maloney for Scotland
Paul Hartley also played with Shaun Maloney for Scotland.

Hartley said: “He was a top player and top professional. He was quiet and a deep-thinker of the game.

“I obviously played with him and Gary for club and country. Shaun has done a bit of work with Celtic at academy level and been (Roberto) Martinez’s number two with Belgium.

“I’ve seen the style they have and it’s typical of Shaun, the way he played the game himself. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.

“He’s gained a lot of experience over the last few years, particularly with Belgium working with world-class players.”

There is little to lose for the Aberdeen side, who have won their last nine games and sit eight points clear at the top of League One.

But Hartley is keen for his team to play their natural game and not be cowed by their Premiership opponents.

He added: “It’s for the players to go and enjoy, not me. They’re playing in it. I’ve got the simple task of picking the team then the rest is up to them.

Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley
Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley.

“You want to enjoy it and you want to play well. It’s a good game for us and I don’t see there being big pressure on us to win. But there’s pressure on us to go and play well from me.

“The message is to go and play the way they’ve been playing for the last three months.

“They have to do what they’ve been good at – nothing changes in terms of our style and how we want to play.

“We are massive underdogs from how we’re used to playing. At times we won’t have the ball and that’s football; you’re playing against better players and your concentration levels have to be better.

“You need to be on your A game to get anything out of the game.”

Cove were giving all their fitness doubts until last night before making a decision on whether they would be available for the game.

One person who will not feature though is Fin Robertson, who returned to parent club Dundee this week.

Hartley added: “Dundee wanted Fin back. He’s a tremendous young talent and was a wee bit unfortunate here with a few things.

“He’s got a bright future ahead of him but he’s Dundee’s player. He’s helped us along the way and we thank them for that.”

Cove Rangers chairman Keith Moorhouse determined to enjoy Scottish Cup tie with Hibernian

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