Terry Butcher has backed his players to use their experience and hold their nerve as they begin their battle for Scottish Premiership survival at Hamilton tonight.
Although the Championship side have been making plenty of noise about having nothing to fear from the Capital outfit – words which have been noted by Butcher and his squad – the Easter Road boss believes Hibs can seize the second chance to retain their top-flight status the play-off has offered them.
And far from approaching the double-header with trepidation, Butcher insisted his players have been “itching to get out there” ever since the defeat by Kilmarnock on the final day of the regular season consigned them to 11th place.
He did concede, though, that his side have to find that ruthless streak in front of goal which deserted them for much of the season, their 38 league games producing a miserly 31 goals with just three scored in their final ten matches.
Noting that Hibs will be backed by 2700 fans having sold out their ticket allocation for tonight’s clash at New Douglas Park, Butcher said: “I don’t think nerves will be a problem, the players know what is expected. Ever since the Kilmarnock match they have been itching to get out there, the training, the standard and intensity, has been great.
“A lot of the players are very experienced, they have good knowledge of the game, they have played in big games, international matches some of them, cup finals, European games and I think the significance of the situation can spur you on to heroics or great achievements and that is what we are looking for the players to do. Who is going to be our hero?”
Butcher acknowledged the serious consequences that failure to overcome Accies during the course of the next few days would bring, describing them as “huge,” and admitting: “That’s the situation we are in and we have to get on with it. We probably deserve to be here because we have not done the business when it mattered.
“Now it’s a second chance for us to put things right and that’s what we intend to do.”
Much has been made of the respective club’s contrasting records, Hibs having won just once in 19 matches while Accies have lost only one of their last 15 games, statistics which, Butcher claimed, can quickly be turned on their head.
He said: “Good runs and bad runs always come to an end and we want to end this bad run. We are entirely focused on giving a good performance, maintaining the form we have shown because we have started very well in our last few games but also being more ruthless in putting the chances away.
“I think both teams will be looking to go into the second leg with a lead and it would be nice to be in that position. There will be a cracking atmosphere tonight and knowing we have two extra chances in many aspects is a big motivational factor for our boys.”