Stubbs: Morton more important than cup derby

Alan Stubbs. Picture: Jane Barlow

Alan Stubbs. Picture: Jane Barlow

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Alan Stubbs has claimed tonight’s Championship match with Morton is more important to Hibs than Sunday’s Scottish Cup clash against Capital rivals Hearts as they turn their attention back to this season’s priority – winning promotion to the Premiership.

Although delighted to see his players clinch a League Cup final place by beating St Johnstone and relishing a return trip to Tynecastle on Sunday to take on Robbie Neilson’s side, Stubbs was adamant the intervening trip to Cappielow won’t be allowed to become an unwelcome distraction.

The Easter Road head coach said: “Tonight is more important than Sunday. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We’ve had a discussion with the players, It was fantastic at the weekend, they deserve all the pats on the back, the plaudits, but it’s gone.

“It’s on the back-burner now for six weeks. We move to tonight, we keep the momentum going, keep building. Big clubs have big mentalities. It’s no coincidence that they can churn out results week in, week out, no matter what.

“You Celtics, your Rangers, ourselves, Hearts, you look at all the teams in England. You have to have a mentality that, no matter what, even when there are highs, you don’t drop off for the next game. You’re thinking about that game because you move on very, very quickly. You have to, otherwise you stand still.”

Stubbs insisted he had no worries that fighting on three fronts might deflect Hibs from the race for the Championship title, adamant the cup games aren’t making life harder for him.

He said: “No, it makes it better, The more games, the better because, with our squad of players, I could make five or six changes every week if I wanted to. I honestly don’t feel as if it would affect the team because of the quality we’ve got.

“I want to be in everything because success breeds success. I’d much prefer to be in three competitions. There was a potential that it could have been down to two at the weekend, but we are still in three.

“If you don’t enjoy these type of weeks I’m afraid you’re in the wrong game. You have to enjoy it when things go right for you because, more often than not, there will be times when things go wrong for you. It’s a crazy business. You seem to beat yourself up for the losses and when you do have the wins you move on very quickly.

“As the games come around you devote your attention to each one. The league is obviously our bread and butter, it’s our main priority but everyone loves a cup competition. For fans, players, it’s different. It’s an exciting format.

“We’re lucky we have managed to reward ourselves with a trip to Hampden in March. We’ve got Morton tonight, but after that, we’ve got a fantastic game on Sunday to showcase ourselves, Hearts and Edinburgh, which is going to go nationwide.”

Stubbs will have on-loan Celtic striker Anthony Stokes in tonight’s squad after he missed out against Saints with a back strain having scored on his debut, second time round, a week earlier.

Admitting he hopes Storm Henry has blown itself out before kick-off, he added: “The good thing about it is that’s a good pitch but we know we are in for a difficult game.”