HIBS manager Pat Fenlon says his team “haven’t spoken a single word” about Sunday’s Scottish Cup derby against Hearts, insisting his players’ only concern is tonight’s clash at St Johnstone.
The Easter Road side travel to Perth in search of vital SPL points just days before they host their fiercest rivals in the cup.
The significance of Sunday’s game is not lost on Fenlon, but he wants his players to focus on the bread and butter of the league business first and foremost.
Asked if there was a danger his players would have one eye on the derby when they take on Steve Lomas’ side, Fenlon said: “I’m not worried about it. It is not relevant to me. St Johnstone is a bigger game for us – it is a league game and we want to make sure we get the points. It is a difficult venue and we have to be focused on this match.
“We have not spoken a single word about another game, and that is the honest answer. The only game in our minds is St Johnstone.
“The SPL is the bread and butter and we have to make sure we respond from losing a couple of games back-to-back. We’ve said before that our aim is to take the club from where it has been in recent seasons into the top six. We are there at the moment and we need to stay there.”
Fenlon has been dealt a huge blow with the news that James McPake will miss tonight’s match because of continuing back problems. Furthermore, Hibs’ skipper is almost certain to also be ruled out of the Hearts game.
He is, however, hoping that his captain will be fit in time for the league game against Inverness in ten days time.
He added: “James will struggle for the weekend – it’s a back spasm and we hope he will be back in ten days for the game against Inverness, which is more realistic.
“Tim Clancy has had a minor op and it will be another two or three weeks before he is back playing.
“We’re short of numbers, particularly defensively, but Lewis [Stevenson] has done well at left back and Ryan has played at championship level so it’s not as if we’re throwing in kids to play.
“If we have to do that, however, young Brad Donaldson has done well at the Under-20s and can play right back and central defence.”