John Hughes has unfinished business with Hibernian – Brian Rice

Brian Rice claims former managerial partner John Hughes has unfinished business with Hibernian – and would relish the chance to complete it.

Hughes led Hibs to a third-placed finish in 2010 in his only full season in charge before being sacked in early October the following campaign.

But with the man who made that decision, Rod Petrie, now gone from Easter Road, Hughes’ long-time assistant believes the former Hibs defender would be a perfect fit after the sacking of Paul Heckingbottom.

Rice is incredulous that Hughes is out of management after taking Falkirk, Hibs and Inverness into European football – the latter achievement on the back of a Scottish Cup win.

Hughes has been out of management since leaving a brief and unhappy stint with Raith Rovers in May 2017 following their relegation from the Ladbrokes Championship.

The Hamilton head coach said: “You look at John’s record, it’s incredible. It’s absolutely incredible that a guy like John Hughes isn’t in football.

“Take away everything and just look at his football record: got Falkirk to a Scottish Cup final, got them into Europe, went to Inverness and finished third in the league, got to two finals, won one. Never in relegation trouble at Inverness.

“When he was at Hibs, got them into Europe. Rangers were in the league at that time as well.

“John’s record is incredible, he has brought through loads of young players.

“Attractive football – look at the season when we got Hibs into Europe, the goals scored by (Derek) Riordan, (Colin) Nish and (Anthony) Stokes. Go back to the record books and look at the amount of goals they scored between them (51).

“So for John Hughes to be out of football, it’s incredible that nobody has given John an opportunity.”

The former Hibernian midfielder added: “Hibs is his club, Hibs is right through the middle of his heart, and I know how much the club means to him.

“I have absolutely no doubt that he has got unfinished business there and, given the opportunity, I’m sure he would go and finish that business.

“It’s very difficult when you lose your job and it’s the same board that is going to try and reappoint you. When things change, the goalposts change elsewhere as well.

“I don’t think there is anybody with better credentials to take over Hibs than John Hughes.”

Rice was not surprised to see the managerial changes at Easter Road or across Edinburgh at Tynecastle, where Craig Levein was sacked last week.

“I’m disappointed when anybody loses their job,” the 56-year-old said. “We have all been there. But the expectations at Hearts and Hibs are very high.

“Obviously being at Hibs before, I know what the fans are looking for and rightly so, they want to be the third and fourth forces in Scotland.

“So it doesn’t really surprise me. Once the fans at those clubs get in about the managers then it’s very, very difficult.”