Darren McGregor has vowed not to allow Raith Rovers’ strong Hearts connection to spoil Hibs fans’ Christmas.
Former Jambos skipper and manager Gary Locke will bring his side – which includes Rudi Skacel, Kevin McHattie and Jason Thomson – to Easter Road on Christmas Eve and McGregor is well aware they’d love nothing more than to inflict some festive misery on the Capital outfit. But, while admitting the presence of so many former Tynecastle players will add a bit of needle to the match, McGregor was adamant he and his team-mates are determined to see their last home match of the year end in a Hibs victory ahead of further testing fixtures against Falkirk and Dundee United.
McGregor admitted Neil Lennon’s players will have to shake off the slow starts they’ve made in recent games, Hibs having passed up the chance to open up a two-point gap on United at the top of the Championship table when drawing away to Morton, having known their title rivals had earlier been held to a no-scoring draw at Stark’s Park.
The defender, part of a scrooge-like Hibs defence which has conceded just nine goals in 17 league matches, said: “The result on Saturday was a sore one to take knowing we were in pole position to get a bit of daylight between ourselves and United. It’s a long haul, but it would have been great to get the victory.
“We are well aware the last couple of games have been slow-burners, we’ve been slow to start. Dumbarton was a slow-burner but we managed to get the points but we started slowly again against Morton and, on reflection, a draw was probably a fair result. It’s not something we want to make too much of an issue of. We’ve had a couple of games in which we’ve been poor but we are professionals and we are all well aware we need to up our game. However, if we are being honest, we are missing key players but that’s not to say we don’t have guys waiting in the wings who are as effective in their own right.
“We have to maximise the squad and meet the challenge head-on because it is imperative we get out of this league. I honestly believe that as individuals and as a team come Saturday we will show our mettle and give us all a good Christmas.”
McGregor admitted, though, that Locke will be equally determined to win the three points, saying: “It’s going to a be a tough game. Gary Locke will want to win at Easter Road and there’s a few Jambos there who’ll want to celebrate their Christmas by beating us.
“They had a good result against United last weekend, they’ve an experienced manager with experienced players who will enjoy coming here so it’s up to us to make it as uncomfortable as possible for them.
“There will be a big of extra needle with those connections to Hearts but that adds to the enjoyment of the game knowing everyone is champing at the bit. I like those kind of games.”