James McPake today backed Hibs’ derby day rookies to rise to the occasion as the Easter Road outfit seek their first victory over Hearts in more than three years at home on Sunday.
Pat Fenlon’s starting line-up could contain four players – new signings Ben Williams, Tim Clancy, Paul Cairney and Gary Deegan – going into an Edinburgh derby for the first time.
The fact the lunchtime kick-off will be the first time the pair have met since Hearts inflicted a 5-1 mauling on their arch-rivals in the Scottish Cup final barely three months ago adds extra spice to the match while the teams go into the game having enjoyed differing fortunes on the opening day, John McGlynn’s players beating St Johnstone while Fenlon’s side went down to Dundee United.
McPake, though, believes a healthy travelling support on Tayside will have given the manager;s signings a taste of Hibs’ potential even if the fans were bitterly disappointed by the 3-0 defeat and a poor performance.
Club captain McPake, however, insisted that while it may take Fenlon’s new-look side a bit of time to gel, the new boys plus the further signings he envisages Fenlon making will have Hibs heading in the right direction.
The 27-year-old said: “The new boys have come in and, as when I first arrived at the club, people have wasted no time in letting them know how big the expectation levels are here. I think they realised that when they saw the fantastic support we had at Tannadice.
“It was a wee taste of what we can get if we get a good team on the pitch and start producing good performances.”
Asked about the derby, he said: “They are all experienced boys and these are the games everyone wants to play in.”