Club stalwart makes no excuses as Hibs get ready to go again following Motherwell loss

Paul Hanlon isn’t interested in any excuses after the Hibs captain and his team-mates lost their second consecutive game to start the 2023/24 cinch Premiership season.

The Easter Road club went down 2-1 to Motherwell at Fir Park on Sunday afternoon as goals from Conor Wilkinson and Mika Biereth gave the hosts a two-goal lead before Adam Le Fondre’s injury-time strike from the penalty spot.

The result and performance both significantly contrasted with Thursday evening’s match at Easter Road, where Hibs defeated Swiss side Luzern 3-1 in the first leg of their Europa Conference League third-qualifying round encounter.

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After the loss in Lanarkshire, manager Lee Johnson said he believed his squad were struggling to cope with the demands of playing Thursday and Sunday each week to begin the campaign, but Hanlon wasn’t interested in using their ongoing European adventure as a reason for defeat.

“Nah, I think that’s an easy excuse. We’ve got so much facilities, we’re in every day,” he said. “As soon as one game finishes we’re in recovering and preparing for the next fixture. The manager and the staff are drumming it in how important it is to get points on the board. It’s an easy way to look at it, you assume that’s the case but I don’t think it is.

“I suppose it is [difficult mentally] but you go through spells of that during the season anyway when there’s midweek or cup games coming up. We’re all used to having midweek games.

“The travel aspect comes into it playing in Europe but I don’t want that to be an excuse because we’ve got all the facilities at the training ground, nutritionists and everyone to help us.

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“Even training is cut down a lot just now because of the demands of the games. We just need to be better on the pitch, defensively and offensively.

“I had a good pre-season this year. I feel really fit going into the matches. Sometimes it suits me to be recovering and playing, I actually don’t mind the hectic game schedule.

A disappointing aspect for the club stalwart was the failure to build on the momentum following the victory over Luzern. Just like ahead of the first-leg match, which followed a defeat to St Mirren on the opening weekend of the league season, Hibs will once again have to pick themselves up prior to the game in Switzerland as they look to hold onto their advantage and secure a play-off round tie with Aston Villa.

“We had to show a bit of character after the St Mirren game to bounce back on Thursday, and we managed to do that. You want to keep that going but it’s another one where we’ll have to dig deep, we know what we’ll face on Thursday,” said Hanlon.

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“It’s going to be a difficult match again and we need to pick ourselves to be ready for it. It’s exciting for us all, the fans as well.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position and we want to capitalise on that. It’s going to be a really difficult game, they’re a good side and we need to be physically and mentally ready.”

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