Hibs boss Pat Fenlon has warned his Easter Road stars to keep their feet on the ground as they prepare to return to SPL action with back-to-back home games against Kilmarnock and Inverness Caley Thistle.
After only ending the threat of relegation in the penultimate game of last season and suffering a crushing defeat by Dundee United on the opening day of the new campaign, Fenlon’s players have surprised many by going four matches unbeaten, a run which has catapulted the Capital club into third place in the table, level on points with champions Celtic and just one behind leaders Motherwell.
A gritty performance in which Hibs twice came from behind to earn a point against Celtic in Glasgow followed a derby draw with Hearts and wins over St Mirren and St Johnstone, but now Fenlon has his fingers crossed that the international break won’t break the momentum which has been building.
Fenlon has had five players away on international duty in the intervening period with his latest signing, Manchester City defender Ryan McGivern, due to meet up with his new team-mates for the first time today, having played in Northern Ireland’s disappointing World Cup qualifying draw with Luxembourg in Belfast last night.
Leigh Griffiths, who missed the second half of Scotland’s Under-21 European Championship double header against Austria after suffering a migraine and Paul Hanlon and David Wotherspoon, who played in the 3-2 defeat which ended the young Scots’ hopes of a play-off place, are already back at the club, leaving only Honduran midfielder Jorge Claros to return.
However, it would appear jet-lag will be Fenlon’s only worry regarding Claros after the 26-year-old was an unused substitute as his country completed a World Cup qualifying double over Cuba with a 1-0 win in San Pedro Sula in the early hours of this morning, but won’t rejoin his Easter Road team-mates until Friday morning.
Fenlon admitted the demands of international football can be a “hindrance,” particularly for a manager like himself who is operating without the comfort of a large squad, but added: “I’m delighted to see our players get such recognition. We want to see them representing their countries, but we also want them back fit and healthy.”
As happy as he has been with the promising start his players have made to the League campaign, Fenlon is well aware home form has been a major problem for Hibs over the past 18 months, during which they have won just two League games at Easter Road,
But now he is determined they seize the opportunity presented by the visits of Killie and Caley over the next two weekends. He said: “We’ve had a half-decent start in the league, but that’s all it is. We don’t pat ourselves on the back too much as we have big games coming up.”