After only one full season in Scottish football, Jake Doyle-Hayes has already tasted almighty highs and lows in the League Cup. He hopes those rollercoaster experiences can help him move closer to a trophy with Hibernian this evening.

The Irishman, who this week penned a new four-year deal just months after his arrival at Easter Road, revelled in victory over today’s opponents, Rangers, in the tournament last year with St Mirren. It was a shock 3-2 success that halted the Ibrox side’s 27-game unbeaten sequence and booked the Buddies a semi-final spot against Livingston.

“It was a game of mixed emotions,” said Doyle-Hayes of that triumph over Rangers. “We were winning, Rangers then equalised in the last couple of minutes and you think it’s going to extra-time.

“You think that is going to be tough, but we managed to get things together and score the winner. It was an unbelievable feeling to knock them out of the cup.

“We played with no fear and we tried to stamp our authority on the game. We have to do that now.”

Doyle-Hayes was brought crashing back down by a yellow card in that quarter-final that earned him a suspension for the subsequent trip to Hampden. He was forced to sit and watch in frustration as his team-mates lost 1-0 to Livingston to miss out on a crack at silverware in the final.

"It was tough,” he added. “It was my first time at Hampden and an unbelievable stadium, and I wish I could’ve played in that game. There were no fans but there was such excitement around the whole club building up to the game.

“It was a real disappointment the lads lost 1-0. Listen, I learned from experience, I probably shouldn’t have picked up so many yellows. But I am back this season with Hibs so I’m delighted.”

The 22-year-old will be spurred on by both the good and the bad as Hibs seek the perfect return from a coronavirus-enforced lay-off and a four-match losing streak. That worrying sequence kicked off with a 2-1 loss against Rangers at Ibrox, a result aided by Ryan Porteous’ red card for a lunge on Joe Aribo, and descended into a mini-crisis with defeats to Dundee United, Aberdeen and Celtic before a rash of positive Covid-19 cases caused fixtures against Ross County and Livingston to be postponed.

“The game we played at Ibrox, until we had a man sent-off was a pretty even game,” said Doyle-Hayes. “We started well in that game. It was disappointing, everyone was disappointed afterwards in the changing room.

“We had a few games after that didn’t go our way either. So we’re all just happy to be back playing and having a big game coming up to try and right those wrongs. We just need to have no fear, go out and express ourselves and play the way we know that we can play.

“It's been a tough spell but we have worked hard and we need to bounce back by giving it a real go.”

Hibs were defeated by St Johnstone at the penultimate stage of the League Cup last term before losing to the same opponents in the final of the Scottish Cup. With a semi-final exit to rivals Hearts in the delayed version of the previous season’s Scottish Cup and a 5-2 drubbing from Celtic in the last four of that year’s League Cup, the capital outfit are accustomed to the surroundings, if not necessarily the taste of success, at the national stadium.

“It depends how you look at it. We lost three out of four at Hampden last year or we've won one out of the last two,” said manager Jack Ross putting a positive spin on the record. “You always look back at your preparation and think of things you could do differently.

“Ironically, the week before the Scottish Cup final last year went brilliantly for me as a manager and yet we were rubbish on the day, which just shows you there's no exact science in it. If there was something I thought we were missing, we would do it but we feel by and large over the last couple of years it’s been okay.

“We realise there was missed opportunities for us last year - and I don't mean in terms of who we were playing and all that nonsense. I just mean being in semi-finals. This is as good an opportunity for us on Sunday as any last year because it’s a semi-final and it can take us closer to winning something.

“I sense that feeling around the players this week. I've been really pleased with how they have trained and their mood and mindset going into the game. A lot of them recognise they don't want another chance to slip by them in terms of winning silverware.”