Pat FENLON has claimed Hibs have three reasons for wanting to win tonight’s Edinburgh derby – with opening up a nine-point gap between themselves and Hearts the least important.
While the Easter Road fans would enjoy going further ahead of their Capital rivals, victory would not only put Hibs level in second place with Inverness Caley and Motherwell, but also see Fenlon’s players pass the points total they amassed during the whole of last season.
And to do that with 16 more league matches to come would, Fenlon insisted, further underline the progress already made this season, one in which Hibs have gone from second bottom to be challenging at the top end of the table.
Hibs are seeking back-to-back wins over Hearts for the first time since early 2009 having put the Jambos out of the Scottish Cup only a few weeks ago, but with tonight’s game coming 40 years after Turnbull’s Tornadoes demolished the Gorgie outfit 7-0, Fenlon believes such matters are more for the fans.
He said: “I think things like that are for the supporters to enjoy and maybe slag each other off and have a bit of banter. I think as players if you start to look back too many times you can get lost.
“It is important we look forward. We think we have changed this club around and we want to continue to do that. This game is another step on the ladder towards doing that. If we can go there and win the game it just helps all of the rebuilding process. I think we have made great strides. There have been a couple of times when we have gone back a couple of steps, but I think in general we have been moving forward.”
To that end, Fenlon insisted he’s looking on tonight’s match more as an opportunity of
closing in on Inverness and Motherwell than considering the impact a Hibs win would have on Hearts.
He said: “I think we look at it as ‘can we make up a bit of ground?’ Can we get beyond our points tally for the whole of last season if we win? That’s obviously a target.
“Supporters will always look at it in a different way from a manager and players, but we want to make sure we focus on trying to pick up three points. That’s really important for us, and if we pick up three points that will get us closer to the teams ahead of us.”
Hibs go into the derby on a high having beaten SPL champions Celtic at the weekend and Fenlon will be looking for a repeat of that performance in a game he reckons is now the biggest in Scottish football following Rangers’ exit from the top flight. He said: “You want to measure yourself against good sides and go into their back yards and try to take the points. That’s what it is all about.
“When we get to the end of the season we can judge where we are as a club, but days like this and the response we showed against Celtic after
being beaten by Ross County is important.”