Under-pressure Hibernian boss Pat Fenlon insists his team have the inner strength to come through their miserable start to the season, even without the help of injured skipper James McPake.
The Edinburgh side suffered Scotland’s worst ever European result when they were humiliated 9-0 on aggregate by Malmo in the Europa League qualifiers before losing to Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership opener.
To make matters much, much worse, Fenlon’s side then lost 1-0 to administration-hit Hearts in last Sunday’s Edinburgh derby.
McPake has been ruled out of action since the disastrous games against the Swedes with a back injury but is back running ahead of schedule.
The former Coventry defender has become an inspirational figure for the Leith supporters but Fenlon is content that his team has enough resolve to see their way out of trouble.
Fenlon told Press Association Sport: “James is good around the place as a captain, even when he’s not playing.
“To have him back out on the training pitch so soon is positive for us.
“But we have got plenty of players with leadership qualities like big Ben Williams, Michael Nelson and Tim Clancy. James is obviously in the category too, as is Alan Maybury.
“Even the so-called younger ones like Liam Craig, Scott Robertson and Kevin Thomson are good pros and good around the place too.
“When things aren’t going well, your senior players are really important and I’m lucky to have a few of them here.”
Although Northern Ireland international McPake is back in light training, he will miss Saturday’s match with Dundee United and Fenlon admits that he still cannot put an exact date on his expected return.
“It’s frustrating for James but he’s actually back running at the moment,” he said.
“That’s come about quicker than we imagined, so I don’t think he’s going to be a million miles away over the next few weeks.
“He’s had a few problems so it’s important we make sure he is right and ready to play.
“It’s difficult to put a timescale on it. He’s only just back doing straight running and needs to put a bit of time in to that before he’s twisting and turning and then joining in with full training.
“But he is doing better at this stage than we thought and there is some light at the end of the tunnel. After the Malmo game he struggled badly but he’s a lot more mobile now.”