Alan Stubbs has urged his players to put their Scottish Cup heartbreak behind them by clinching their place in the Premiership he feels they deserve.
Having seen Falkirk end their hopes of a place in the final for a third time in four seasons, Stubbs knows he has to now pick up his players for the closing games of the season with promotion now the sole target.
The Easter Road outfit are embroiled in a battle with Rangers for second place in the Championship, a finish which would lead to fewer play-off games, but the Ibrox club now hold a four-point lead over the Capital club. Hibs, however, have a game in hand, Wednesday night’s clash away to Livingston and Stubbs, claimed, that match can serve as the ideal pick-me-up, believing his squad can use the bitter disappointment of losing at Hampden to good effect in the coming weeks.
The head coach said: “We have so much to achieve in this season. Losing the semi-final is gone, we have to get over it. It’s my job and that of my staff and the players themselves to pick them up. You have to be able to draw on the disappointment and to make you stronger. It’s the worst feeling.
“I am as disappointed as anyone, but if anything it drives you on even more. We have a talented group of players, there’s only one direction they are going to go. It’s just a matter of time.
“They deserve to play in the Premiership but nothing is given to you, you have to earn it and that’s what we will try to do from now to the end of the season.”
And although he knows Hibs will face a tough scrap against a rejuvenated Livingston side which now has hopes of not only avoiding the automatic relegation place but the play-off spot as well, Stubbs believes Wednesday night provides the ideal opportunity for them to bounce back.
“We still have a lot to play for, we are not in mid-table where the season just fizzles out,” he said.
“There would have been nothing better than to lead the team out for a final but it’s gone. We can’t dwell on it and let it have a hangover effect. The best way to respond is to go out on Wednesday and get the result we want.”
When it was suggested to him that all too often Hibs seem to wilt in the final weeks of a season, Stubbs retorted: “The best way to answer that is by getting results. We have a different group of players, only a few left from last season so I think to label that at them is a little bit unfounded.
“We have the biggest carrot dangling in front of us. We’ve said from the beginning of the season that’s what we want to achieve and that’s what we are going to try to do.”