Brian Graham has insisted there will be no room for sentiment as Hibs go gunning for his old club Raith Rovers today, intent on opening up a nine point lead at the top of the Championship table.
The Fife club have endured a tortuous run of results, without a win in 14 games, a record which saw manager Gary Locke and his assistant Darren Jackson sacked and replaced by former Easter Road boss John Hughes.
However, the winless streak has also seen Raith drop dangerously close to the danger zone, just four points above the relegation play-off spot and another defeat at Stark’s Park today would plunge them deeper into trouble.
But while Graham admits he’ll always hold Raith in high regard having once scored 27 goals in a season to earn himself a move into the Premier League, the 29-year-old was adamant he won’t allow those feelings to interfere with his emotions.
He said: “I really loved it there to be honest. They gave me the springboard to get to the Premiership which is where I wanted to be, a move to Dundee United.
“It surprises me to see where they are because they have a good squad. You look around about them and they have got good players. You obviously don’t know what is going on in the background but it wasn’t to be and they have changed their manager now.
“I think John Hughes will bring something different to them and I believe he will have them right up for this game.”
Graham has already scored against Raith this season, netting for Ross County in the Betfred Cup at the beginning of the season before making his surprise move to Easter Road where, he insists, all eyes are firmly on promotion with the looming Scottish Cup replay against Capital rivals Hearts taking, for the meantime, second place in the thoughts of Neil Lennon’s players.
He said: “I can’t have any sentiment. It’s a difficult place to go but we’ll go with high hopes of getting the three points.”
If Hibs were to do so, they’d leave their closest rivals Dundee United trailing with only 12 games to play but, insisted Graham, the Tannadice club aren’t the only threat to the Edinburgh club’s hopes of taking the title and with it the only automatic promotion place.
He said: “It’s not just about United any more. Morton are going really well and Falkirk have started to pick up points again. Morton play Falkirk this weekend so something has to give there but I’m sure there will be plenty more twists between now and the end of the season.
“We just have to concentrate on ourselves and get the points on the board.”
Hibs slipped up before facing Hearts at Tynecastle, forced to settle for a draw at home with Ayr United but, claimed Graham, Lennon’s players are determined there won’t be a repeat even although the replay is only a few days away.
He said: “If you look at it, we created enough chances to win the Ayr game. It’s easy to say we took our eye off the ball a wee bit but the gaffer has got us in a mindset this season where we take one game at a time regardless of who we are playing.
“That’ what we’ll do again, the derby will take care of itself. Look around our dressing room and we’d class ourselves a Premiership squad. We were a bit disappointed not to come away from Tynecastle with the victory to be honest.
“We go again on Wednesday night – but today it’s all about Raith Rovers.”