Terry Butcher today urged his players to “get stuck in” against Partick Thistle as Hibs begin a final push to haul themselves clear of the danger of a play-off scrap and secure their Scottish Premiership future.
The Easter Road outfit, hovering just one point above 11th place, face three crunch matches in the space of eight days starting with a visit from the Jags tomorrow in which they’re aiming to end a run of six straight defeats.
But despite that record, Butcher insisted he was pleased with his side’s performance in the derby defeat by Hearts and demanded a repeat of that display in each of their remaining matches. The Hibs boss said: “We lost the game to two set pieces but the way we played the game was very good, the attitude and the intensity.
“I think our foul count was two to one more than Hearts so we got stuck in which is what the fans want to see and what I want to see a lot more. But we also played some good stuff as well and I think when you have got that it gives you a ray of hope, a glimmer of optimism.
“It does give players confidence. I was pleased and told the players that straight away.”
Butcher was particularly delighted with the way his senior players responded to the challenges facing the club and he’s looking for them to lead from the front again tomorrow and in the subsequent matches against Ross County and Kilmarnock.
He said: “I think the players are frustrated as well as me but I think the senior players stood up really well last week, they were strong and that’s got to be the case in the next three games. Thommo [Kevin Thomson] spoke of sticking the chest out and having a go and that’s what we have to do. Anything else would be wrong after the way we played against Hearts.”
Butcher will also be looking for Hibs to get the first goal, something they haven’t done since beating Ross County in mid-February, the Hibs boss agreeing it was no coincidence that’s been their only victory in 15 matches. He said: “Sometimes when we have gone a goal down we’ve gone a bit gung-ho and ended up conceding another one but, yes, it would be nice if we could score first.”
However, despite the defeat by Hearts, Butcher believes his players have a renewed confidence. “I think the confidence factor has risen enormously after last Sunday. We played well, we looked like a team that’s hard to beat and a team that looks like it will score – and we’ve not done that for a long, long time. We have not got anywhere near what we wanted to do, we have not got the points, results or performances we wanted so we have to make sure the next three matches really count for something.”