HIbs manager Pat Fenlon has no doubt his players will handle the pressure of being favourites for tonight’s League Cup quarter-final clash with Hearts – because the Easter Road club have to deal with expectation from their fans in every game.
The Hibees are favourites for the visit of administration-hit Hearts, who languish 15 points adrift at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership and haven’t won a league match for more than two months. In addition, Gary Locke’s squad is by far the youngest in the top flight, while Fenlon’s is one of the most experienced.
However, the Irishman doesn’t feel his players will buckle under the tag of being favourites, insisting that their supporters’ demands mean that the players are well used to the pressure of playing at a club like Hibs.
Speaking about the weight of expectation, Fenlon, left, said: “That’s the same with the fans here every week, and rightly so. We have to deal with it. We are a big club in the country and we will be expected to win matches.
“If you want to play here you have to deal with that. It’s no different tonight.”
Hibs will have to make one change to the team that lost 2-0 at home to Aberdeen at the weekend, as striker Paul Heffernan is cup-tied.
The former Kilmarnock hitman has been a key man since his arrival at Easter Road in the summer, but will have to watch tonight’s clash from the stand.
Fenlon admitted that it was a blow for his side to be without their main forward, but the manager is hoping his absence will simply be an invitation for other players in the Hibs squad to step up to the plate.
“It’s a loss for us,” said Fenlon. “But we knew that when we signed him. It gives other players a chance to come in and play who haven’t played for the last few weeks.
“That happens in football. It’s a bit like Michael Nelson getting injured and James coming in. I thought James did quite well for us on Saturday considering it was his first game. It gives other players a chance to stake a claim.”