Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has warned his players that their Ibrox heroics don’t guarantee them a starting place for Saturday’s clash with Raith Rovers.
Although delighted with his side’s performance as they demolished Rangers 3-1, Stubbs is determined to build on that result, with Dumbarton following Raith in visiting Easter Road.
Describing the victory in Govan as a “real positive step in the right direction”, Stubbs revealed that Hibs’ League Cup victory over Premiership outfit Ross County in Dingwall had given his players the belief to turn in a performance which, in his estimation, was as good as their display against Rangers in the Petrofac Training Cup earlier in the season.
“We didn’t get anything out of that one,” he said, “But obviously when you put a performance in of the same quality and get the result it makes it all the more enjoyable.”
The three points catapulted Hibs from second bottom place to fifth, and another win this weekend would see them leapfrog Raith, Stubbs acknowledging that back-to-back home games present his side with the opportunity to “get amongst them” at the top end of the Championship table.
However, he hinted he could make changes to a winning side. One might be enforced on him as David Gray – who scored his first ever goal in professional football, a header sandwiched by a double from Jason Cummings, against Rangers – is nursing a tight hamstring which forced him to quit at half-time.
But the head coach may tweak his starting line-up further. He said: “It could change Saturday, it really could. I go from game to game and the players know that. I have a good group of players and they are all going to be needed through the season. I have told them that. There’s got to be a togetherness within the dressing-room because it’s not necessarily on performances why they might not be in the team.”
Whatever personnel Stubbs employs, it would come as a surprise if he were to change the 3-5-2 formation which has served him so well in recent days, the change bringing a greater solidity in defence, with Jordon Forster, Paul Hanlon and Liam Fontaine outstanding at the back as they repelled the efforts of veteran Rangers strikers Kris Boyd and, latterly, Jon Daly.
Stubbs said: “We have dominated games and suddenly the opposition have scored from the one or two set pieces that they have had, and that’s completely changed the face of the game.
“I thought the lads defended magnificently against Rangers.
“Boyd and Daly are a real physical presence but I thought my defenders really stood up to them.
“That’s what I expect of my defenders especially with me being one myself.
“I hate losing goals from set pieces but, when you are under that amount of aerial pressure throughout the whole game, I think I can forgive them for allowing one goal.”
• Hibs’ League Cup quarter
-final tie against Premiership
leaders Dundee United has been scheduled to take place at Easter Road on Wednesday, October 29, kick-off 7.45pm.