Hibs boss Terry Butcher today insisted his Easter Road squad have got over the heartache of ending the season in the play-offs and are now ready to battle for their place in the Scottish Premiership.
The Edinburgh club face a double-header against Hamilton to retain their top-flight status after a Tony Andreu goal gave the Accies a 2-1 aggregate win over Falkirk, the first leg at New Douglas Park on Wednesday, with the second match at Easter Road on Sunday.
But while many will be talking up the chances of Alex Neil’s Championship side, with just one defeat in their last 15 matches, coming out on top against Hibs, who have won just once in 19 games, Butcher was adamant his players are totally focused on the upcoming 180 minutes.
He said: “Obviously the boys are very disappointed about how things have turned out, but they know what is at stake, two games – that’s our season. We have to ensure we come out on top.
“The season has not been great. We’ve had chances to get ourselves out of it, but we are where we are. We have to get over that disappointment and the best way to do that is train hard, get it out of our system and they boys have done that.”
Butcher took in both matches between Accies and the Bairns along with scout John Brownlie and reckons Hamilton just deserved to emerge victorious. He said: “Yesterday was a nervy game which you could understand. It was a very close result between them, there was nothing in the play-off games.
“I enjoyed them, both teams had their moments, their opportunities, but Hamilton were slightly the stronger team and that’s why we are playing them. Accies have a decent record of winning, they’ve been pretty strong at home.”
Hamilton will also have the advantage of familiarity with their artificial surface and the fact they’ve played two games while Hibs go into Wednesday night’s match having not been in action since losing to Kilmarnock a week past Saturday.
Butcher, however, insisted he was unconcerned on both counts, revealing Hibs have been making good use of city neighbour Spartans’ Ainslie Park base despite their own East Mains training centre having a full-sized “plastic” pitch.
He said: “Spartans have a newer version and it was important we play on a surface that resembles those at Hamilton and Falkirk. The boys have been in most days, we’ve had good training sessions on the astro and the players have enjoyed it. Spartans have been brilliant and it’s been good to come out of our natural comfort zone to train somewhere else, to meet other people.
“And I’m not concerned about the lack of games, we had three in a week before this break so the boys have had a chace to regroup and focus on what needs done. We had a competitive 90 minutes against each other on Friday and then a little game against the youngsters on grass at East Mains on Saturday so we are preparing nicely.”