Tel-tale signs are there for Hibs

Terry Butcher at Hibs training centre. Darren McGregor, below.
Terry Butcher at Hibs training centre. Darren McGregor, below.
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DARREN McGREGOR believes that Terry Butcher will be a huge success at Easter Road – but the Buddies defender is hoping the newly-appointed Hibs manager takes a few more weeks to prove his worth.

Butcher will take charge of his new team for the first time since being unveiled as Pat Fenlon’s successor when Hibs travel to Paisley on Saturday.

Buddies defender McGregor knows that the arrival of the former Caley boss and his assistant, Maurice Malpas, will have given the Hibs players a boost and the 28-year-old reckons that they probably couldn’t have made a better appointment than the former England captain.

However, he insists that Saints, who have gone through something of a resurgence in recent weeks having won four of their last five Premiership matches, will be ready for anything that the Hibees can throw at them.

The Edinburgh-born Hibs fan said: “Obviously you would be silly if you didn’t pay any attention to the fact that Hibs have got a new manager in.

“Terry Butcher is a really well established manager and I think that he will do really well at Hibs, but we have been on a decent run lately and have got to try and focus on our own game and make sure that we carry that good form into this weekend’s encounter too.

“It’s got the potential to be a really good game because we’re going into the match full of confidence – and I am sure that Terry Butcher’s arrival will have given the Hibs players a bit of a kick up the backside.

“They will want to come to Paisley and get all three points, but we have had some good results ourselves lately and we’ll be just as determined as them to win the match.

“A lot of Hibs fans will probably tell you that the team has underachieved in recent years, but, if anyone is going to get them going in the right direction again, it is Terry Butcher.

“When you look at the job he did, with the limited finances and resources that he had at Caley, he deserves a lot of credit for that. With all due respect to Inverness, Hibs are a bigger team and I think that, with the connections he has all over Britain and Europe, he can only strengthen the Hibs side.

“I think you will see them kicking on from here – but hopefully they won’t do that until after this weekend.”

The Hibs supporters are expected to ensure Saturday’s match is a real occasion by turning out in their numbers to give Butcher a warm welcome and McGregor knows they will be hoping for a victory to get them off to a good start.

However, Saints have had to fight tooth and nail for every point they have gained this season and McGregor says they’ll be just as determined as their opponents to bag another vital three points this weekend.

He continued: “Terry Butcher is an experienced guy and he will have his players fired up – but in the right way.

“We know their players will be wanting to prove a point, not least because they will want to prove their worth to the new manager.

“This game will be their first chance to try and establish themselves as one of his first-team regulars. I think they will go out there and fight like dogs, but we know what we should expect.”

Earlier in the season Hibs would probably have been a stick-on for a win in the eyes of the bookies as Saints were struggling to string results together, but manager Danny Lennon and his side seem to have turned a corner. The Buddies failed to win a single one of their opening eight league matches but, in recent weeks, they have won four out of their last five and, as a result, have climbed from second bottom of the Premiership into eighth place.

The only hiccup in that run was the 4-0 defeat to Dundee United at Tannadice and McGregor says Saints have well and truly learned their lessons from that one.

McGregor added: “The main thing is that we don’t get complacent. I think that was the biggest thing that we took away from the Dundee United game.

“We possibly went into that game and just expected to turn up and do the business. As it turned out, they thoroughly deserved their victory. That result was a real shot in the arm and since then our work ethic and our perseverance in games has shone through.

“We know now when to play football and when to go out and roll our sleeves up. For me, that has been evident in the last few weeks and we are expecting a hard game against Hibs.

“We know that we will need the hard-work ethic that has been instilled in us over the past few weeks and make it a battle if we need to.”

McGregor certainly seems to be relishing every challenge that comes his way right now – and understandably so.

The defender has been through the wringer, both emotionally and physically, in recent times as he was ruled out for the best part of two years after suffering two serious knee injuries. He only returned to first-team action in July this year and has admitted that one more bad knock may well bring his career to a premature end.

But, for the moment at least, McGregor is simply enjoying being able to play regular football once again and added: “I’ve had a bit of a rough ride over the last couple of years, so I am just delighted to be back playing football again. The feeling that you get after winning a game, playing 90 minutes and actually contributing to the result is just unbelievable. I appreciate absolutely everything now and I can’t tell you how good it feels to be fit and getting a run of games.

“It’s such a great feeling and long may it continue.”