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Cairney reborn at Hibs under Butcher

At times, Paul Cairney's career appears to be proceeding in outright defiance of his Celtic-supporting family.

Paul Cairney, right, has been reborn at Hibernian under the guidance of Terry Butcher. Picture: SNS
Paul Cairney, right, has been reborn at Hibernian under the guidance of Terry Butcher. Picture: SNS

Not only was the 26-year-old Glaswegian's first goal for Hibernian an equaliser during a 2-2 draw at Celtic Park last season, while his father Paul and many other close friends and relatives watched on from the home areas of the stands, recently his hopes of having a productive time at Easter Road have been given rebirth by the arrival of a Rangers legend.

Having fallen out of favour under Pat Fenlon, the former Partick Thistle midfielder has started the last three games under new manager Terry Butcher, his new lease of life even withstanding a fairly dubious sending off against Ross County.

"I really enjoyed scoring [at Celtic Park] last season and I just hope I can do it again," said Cairney. "My dad has been a Celtic fan for all his days and it was a really good moment for me to score with all my family in the Celtic end as well.

"My dad took a table up in hospitality and there was quite a lot of my family there who I saw after the game. They jumped up, and my dad jumped up, so it was really good. The reaction when I went through afterwards was quite mixed, though! He'll be up there again on Saturday, no doubt, but he'll be cheering me on and, hopefully, we can get a win. He'll be quite happy if we do."

Cairney made a total of 33 appearances for Hibs last season, but appeared to be persona non grata under Fenlon ever since being hooked at half time in the eventual William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final victory against Falkirk. Fortunately for the midfielder, Butcher has seen things differently, allowing Cairney to dream of emulating his efforts of last season in a winning display in the east end of Glasgow this time around.

"It was really hard for me training every day and being left out but it's a new manager and he's put me back in the team and I would like to thank him for that," said Cairney. "Obviously he's been Rangers captain and England captain, has a lot of qualities and has been a top player throughout his career, and I am sure he will be a top manager for us. Hopefully, I can do well for him.

"I never really got an explanation why I was left out but that's football for you," he added. "I knew myself I had hit a bit of a bad patch from the semi-final onwards. I know the semi-final wasn't acceptable and I didn't play after that. But I've just kept on working hard and, thankfully, I'm back in the team."

In Cairney's absence, it took a late equaliser from James Forrest to salvage a 1-1 draw for Celtic against Hibs at Easter Road in October and the Edinburgh side travel across the M8 today in a confident frame of mind borne of a three-match unbeaten run under their new manager. Scott Robertson is available again, although Alex Harris, Paul Heffernan and James McPake are still out.

"We weren't playing well and the confidence was low but the gaffer's come in and I think the fans have seen there is a lot of passion about the club and we are looking forward to Saturday," said Cairney. "I'm sure that we can beat them."

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