John McGinn believes Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Aberdeen will give Hibs an early opportunity to parade their Premiership credentials.
The Scotland midfielder admitted Neil Lennon’s side will go into the Hampden clash as underdogs given the Dons currently sit nine points clear in second place in the top flight.
But McGinn insisted he and his team-mates can take confidence from their performances against Premiership sides in the past couple of seasons, Aberdeen, Dundee United and St Johnstone all beaten enroute to the League Cup final while Hibs toppled Hearts, Inverness Caley – the then holders – and United again as they marched on to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years.
Capital rivals Hearts were beaten again this season as the Easter Road outfit have demonstrated their intent on doing all they can to hold onto the trophy.
Admitting winning promotion was of more importance to Hibs in terms of moving forward as a club, McGinn nevertheless firmly believes Lennon’s players have a chance of following up their Championship title win with another piece of silverware.Revealing there was only a “small celebration” to mark clinching the league with three games to spare, the 22-year-old said: “Our season still has a long way to go. We are excited to be playing one of the top teams in the country and to prove we are more than capable of playing the top teams.
“I think in our games against Premiership opposition – Ross County apart [in the League Cup final] – we have been more than a match for them. We go into Saturday’s game as underdogs but we know against teams with a bit of quality they’ll come and attack which suits us much more than trying to beat teams that are sitting in. Saturday gives us a platform to do that and hopefully we’ll do that every week next season. The Championship is really, really tough but we are delighted to be back and hopefully we’ll never see that league again.”
Meanwhile, Hibs boss Lennon insisted he was convinced Hibs were heading back to the top for the first time in three years even when they went down to a 1-0 defeat in early December at Tannadice against United, who were seen as their biggest rivals for the title when the season began.
He said: “I wasn’t overly concerned when we were two points behind on Christmas Eve. I thought it was nothing at that stage of the season. I knew we would get our gander up again and go on a gallop eventually. Then we won five games in a row and, after we won at Tannadice again [in mid-March], I thought ‘we’re not going to get stopped now’.”
n HIBS Under-20s head for Dingwall tonight knowing they need to beat SPFL Development League leaders Ross County to keep their title hopes alive. The young Hibees sit four points behind the Staggies with just three matches remaining.