TOM Soares today claimed the lurid headlines which have swirled around Easter Road this week will pull Pat Fenlon’s squad even closer together.
The on-loan Stoke City midfielder revealed he and his team-mates had simply laughed off claims striker Leigh Griffiths had head-butted the Hibs manager and then punched his assistant Billy Brown during a training ground fracas – because they knew it simply wasn’t true.
While no-one at the club has denied things got a bit heated in the wake of last weekend’s derby defeat by Hearts, the report which sparked the controversy has been dismissed by Fenlon, below, as “downright lies and disgusting”.
Soares revealed Fenlon was “laughing and smiling” as Griffiths returned to training following the spat to prepare for today’s SPL clash with in-form Dundee United.
The midfielder said: “There have been a lot of things in the papers over the last few days and that has brought us a lot closer, especially because most of it isn’t true.
“I think you have just got to laugh it off. It’s one of those things that happens – we all came in, had a bit of a laugh about it and just moved on.
“We were quite close and a good bunch anyway, but it may have helped with that. Now we want to show it.
“This is one of those things that has got out, even though there’s no truth in it.
“Now we want to go out and show we are united, we want to show we are solid.”
Soares agreed with Fenlon’s assessment that Easter Road shouldn’t be “a happy camp” given the club’s current predicament, going into today’s match just four points clear of basement outfit Dunfermline.
The former Crystal Palace star, who has been involved in three relegation battles in the past, said: “Football is a passionate and intense game, and sometimes maybe things get said or done that a few days later people forget.
“We are not in a nice position right now so it’s normal that people aren’t happy with the way things are going.
“I’ve been in this situation a few times so I have seen it before. Sometimes things do get said and you might have a bust-up, but it’s one of those things that happen.
“I don’t really know what was said, to be honest, but Leigh trained, the gaffer was laughing and smiling, so whatever was said and done has been swept under the carpet and we are getting on with things, which is what we need to do.
As a lifelong Hibs fan, Soares believes Griffiths, left, will be hurting more than anyone, his pain heightened by the disappointment at Tynecastle. He said: “Leigh gets a lot of stick from opposition fans, but that’s just one of those things.
“He’s a great player and a big player for us, he has done really well, and we are going to need him between now and the end of the season. We need everyone, the whole squad. It’s important we stick together in a situation like this.
“We all know a massive club like Hibs shouldn’t be in the situation we are in. Leigh might be a bit more passionate because he has grown up supporting the club, but he’s a good boy, definitely.”
Further intrigue to the relegation battle was added with Jim Jefferies taking over from Jim McIntyre in the hotseat at East End Park, the former Hearts boss insisting the Pars would be seeking to hunt down the teams ahead of them in the table.
Events in Fife will no doubt have more than a few Hibs fans casting anxious looks over their shoulders during the next few weeks, but Soares insisted all eyes within the dressing room are firmly fixed on taking care of their own business, rather than concerning themselves as to what others might do.
He said: “I was disappointed with the result last Sunday, especially losing a massive derby. We need to try to pick up as many points as we can as we slipped up at Hearts.
“Now we have to drive on and look to the next one. It’s going to be tough between now and the end of the season, every game is a big game.
“I am concentrating on myself and not worrying about things like that. We’re still in the thick of it and every game between now and the end of the season is going to be massive for us.”