PAT FENLON will tomorrow urge his Easter Road stars to show a desire to win rather than a fear of losing in the crunch clash with fellow SPL strugglers Dunfermline.
Hibs will make the trip across the Forth for the second time in eight days knowing they’ll arrive at East End Park just one point ahead of the Pars who currently occupy the basement place.
But having returned from Fife last weekend with his first win as Hibs boss, a William Hill Scottish Cup triumph over Cowdenbeath, Fenlon is looking for his players to pick up back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
While a welcome three points won’t cure all Hibs ills, Fenlon believes successive wins will not only increase the gap between his side and Dunfermline but give the confidence of his under-pressure players a massive boost and perhaps help haul other clubs into the relegation battle.
Predicting that “three or four” teams could realistically find themselves embroiled in such a fight, Fenlon insisted Hibs will go to Dunfermline determined to win, dismissing the notion he’d be happy with a draw.
He said: “There’s still a long way to go in the season, but it’s a big game for both teams with a big prize at the end of it and I am sure they will be approaching it the same way.
“A win would give us a bit of a gap between us and them and give the boys a little bit more confidence. We need to win some matches, pick up points and get us up the table.”
The win over Second Division leaders Cowdenbeath, no matter how narrow, had, Fenlon revealed, resulted in everyone being a “bit perkier” in training this week, a feeling of satisfaction at having silenced the critics who had been predicting a shock at Central Park.
He said: “There were so many ‘Jonahs’ there to see us losing, plenty saying it would be the shock of the round. We were listening to it all on the radio on the way to the game so to lose a goal after 20 seconds or so but win showed great character.”
Sean O’Hanlon is suspended for tomorrow’s match but striker Leigh Griffiths will be available despite losing his appeal against a one-game ban having been deemed to again having made an offensive gesture after scoring Hibs’ equaliser against the Blue Brazil. Griffiths will serve his ban when Hibs face Kilmarnock or Dundee in the next round of the cup with a warning from Fenlon to learn his lesson.
Fenlon said: “He’s got to learn quickly or he’s not going to play because I can’t have players that are going to be suspended on a regular basis.”
The Irishman, however, confessed to finding Griffiths’ punishment harsh given the abusive remarks directed at him at Central Park went unchecked. Fenlon declined to make an official complaint to police afterwards, reasoning his only focus was on winning matches as Hibs manager.
He said: “I don’t want to worry about anything else, the laws outside football grounds are very similar to those inside them, so they should apply.”
Cowdenbeath, however, have reacted angrily to reports that Fenlon was verbally abused, claiming it was a case of “trying to make something out of a non-story.”
Meanwhile, having made Norwich City youngster George Francomb Fenlon’s second signing, Hibs have announced midfielder Matt Thornhill has left the club just 24 hours after revealing Victor Palsson was also departing.