Paul HANLON has started more matches than any other Hibs player this season, but today the Easter Road star insisted he has no guarantee he’ll walk straight back into boss Pat Fenlon’s side for Sunday’s clash with SPL leaders Celtic.
The Scotland Under-21 skipper was forced to sit out the no-scoring draw against Aberdeen through suspension along with loan signing James McPake, with whom he’d formed such a formidable partnership in the 1-0 William Hill Scottish Cup win over Kilmarnock the previous week. Their absence forced Fenlon into a major reshuffle of his back four with only Pa Kujabi remaining in place as Matt Doherty joined the recalled Sean O’Hanlon in the middle, while George Francomb took over at right back.
Nevertheless, the reshaped defence helped clock up a second successive clean sheet, the first time Hibs had achieved such a feat in almost a year leaving Fenlon with a pleasant headache as both Hanlon and McPake, sent off on his debut at Ibrox, are now available again as is striker Leigh Griffiths who has completed a three-match ban,
Hanlon, however, today declared he was taking nothing for granted, despite having been the only player to have played every minute of every game until illness forced him out of the Boxing Day match against Inverness Caley.
The 22-year-old, who has started 28 of Hibs 30 matches, said: “It was a totally different defence to the week before but credit to the lads for coming in and keeping another clean sheet.
“There’s a lot of competition for places, not just at the back, so everyone needs to keep their performances up when they do play if they want to stay in the team.”