Livingston’s Craig Sives admits the current squad are playing for their futures as they try to earn the points that will keep them in the Championship.
The Lions are rooted to the foot of the table, six points adrift of Alloa and a further point behind Cowdenbeath as the race for survival takes Mark Burchill’s side to Easter Road tonight to face high-flying Hibs.
After encouraging back-to-back performances against Hearts last month, any renewed optimism among the Livi faithful was shattered by defeats to both Falkirk and Raith Rovers.
And Sives, who has been a mainstay at the heart of the Livi defence since Burchill succeeded former boss John McGlynn in December, has warned the dressing-room the consequences of relegation could be detrimental to any future aspirations in the game.
“With ten games to go, everyone is playing for their futures, and not only at Livingston Football Club, but potentially in the full-time game in this country,” the former Hearts defender stressed to the Evening News.
“It’s very rare a side will be relegated from the Championship and then [players] have the opportunity to move up a level. League 1 clubs aren’t generally full-time so we’ve got to think of the jobs we have right now are in jeopardy – it’s a horrible situation to be in.”
With Livi inactive last weekend, there has been plenty to contemplate for the squad since the 2-0 reversal to Raith 11 days ago. That result was compounded by Cowdenbeath’s unexpected 0-0 draw against Rangers at Central Park on Saturday.
“Of course it was disappointing to see the Cowdenbeath result,” Sives conceded. “Cowden have got that extra point so we’re going to have to win at least another three games this season, which is going to be difficult given the fact we’ve only won four times in the league all season, but it’s not impossible.
“I’m sure Cowden were extremely determined to keep a clean sheet after what Hearts did to them the previous week scoring ten, so that’s great from their perspective. But you’d expect with the squad Rangers have got to be beating every side to be honest, so it was disappointing to see.”
Sives is under no illusions as to the size of the task that awaits he and his team-mates tonight at Easter Road with Hibs in formidable form. Alan Stubbs’ side have lost just once at home all season in the league, a 1-0 defeat to Falkirk in August ,and remain the form team of the division alongside their city rivals.
But although Sives was forthcoming with a glowing endorsement of the positivity the former Celtic defender has instilled since his arrival in Leith last summer, the 28-year-old admitted Livi must now approach every game vying for all three points irrespective of the opposition.
“Hibs are full of talent all over the park and a very good side,” he said. “I think they were probably the one team in the league that strengthened the best in January. They’re a big club and they are going to attract good players and you’ve seen that quality from their displays at Ibrox and when they beat Rangers 4-0 at home – they were fantastic that day.
“We know we are going to have to be at it from the start of the game if we are to get anything. We cannot afford to be nervous so we’ve got to do what we can to help the club. After tonight the matches will be down to single figures so time is not on our side. But if we can put in a similar performance we did against Hearts at home and then at Tynecastle then we’ll give ourselves a chance.
“We’re one of the few teams that haven’t been able to take anything off the ‘big three’ so there’s no better time to start as we need to pick up points wherever and whoever it may be. The last two games were disappointing but we had a good six days of training last week so we’ve worked on things and hopefully we can rectify it tonight.”