RYAN McGIVERN admits big games are coming thick and fast for Hibs and the Northern Irish defender wouldn’t want it any other way.
Last Saturday’s draw with champions Celtic kicked off a run of huge matches for the Easter Road side. That clash will be followed this weekend by another home game, this time against Aberdeen, the side who sit directly above them in the SPFL table.
Then, next midweek, they’re back in action for a crunch tie with city rivals Hearts in the quarter-finals of the League Cup, before getting back to top-flight football on Sunday week with a trip to Motherwell, who are currently two points better off than the Dons.
While it is still very early in the season, the results of the next few matches could go a long way to determining just how successful Hibs’ campaign will be.
And McGivern is relishing the prospect of what is to come between now and the beginning of next month.
He said: “Every game is a big game for us because every three points is vital.
“We had Celtic last weekend, this Saturday we have got Aberdeen and after that we have got Hearts in the cup before playing Motherwell in the league.
“The league games are important because those two sides are above us in the table and we are looking to catch them.
“All we can do, though, is take each game as it comes and, if we put in the right kind of performances, then hopefully we will get the right results.”
Aberdeen are fourth in the SPFL, two points ahead of Hibs, having won five of the ten league matches they have played this season.
Manager Derek McInnes seems to have his team ticking right now and McGivern continued: “They’re a good side with a lot of pace and I think they looked quite convincing winners of the cup game against Falkirk recently.
“They have started the season really well and we know it is going to be a really tough test for us. But, if we can play to the levels that we know we can get to then hopefully it will be a good game and one that we get the right result in, too.”
McGivern is likely to be one of the players tasked with keeping man mountain Calvin Zola in check at Easter Road.
The Dons hitman, who stands 6ft 3in tall, is an imposing figure and will provide a huge physical challenge for McGivern and Co.
But, with the likes of Niall McGinn and Scott Vernon also capable of bagging goals for Aberdeen, McGivern warned that Hibs will have to be on top of their game if they are to record another good result.
“He’s a big guy,” McGivern said of Zola, “but there are a lot of big players in the SPFL right now and a lot who play up top.
“There’s no doubt that he has got a real presence because of that, but it is up to us to do the job we would normally do and try to keep him quiet.
“We know that he is not the only player they have who will pose a threat to us.
“They have got quality in the wide areas and through the middle as well, so we know that if we are to get the right result we will have to keep more than Calvin Zola under wraps.”
McGivern, whose performances for Hibs since his arrival last year have seemed more advanced than his 23 years, had something of a stuttering start to the new SPFL campaign.
He missed much of pre-season and the opening matches of the 2013/14 domestic season because of knee and thigh injuries and he has had another niggle or two along the way.
The Northern Ireland internationalist missed the first match of Hibs’ domestic season – against Motherwell at Fir Park – and then had to be content with a seat on the bench in the next couple of matches.
But in recent times he has worked his way back into the starting line-up.
Indeed, he was many observers’ man of the match in the draw with Celtic last weekend.
But it was the fact that Hibs played so well as a unit against the champions which pleased McGivern most.
The former Manchester City player said: “The start I had to the season was not ideal. I missed parts of pre-season and then a lot of the football when the campaign got underway, too, because I picked up another few problems here and there.
“But, over the last couple of games I have slowly eased my way back into the side and the game against Celtic was a good test for me. I thought that I did okay and the team did well collectively. There’s no bigger test in the league than games against Celtic, and that one went quite well.”