DAVID GRAY today admitted he’d love an end-of-season fixture pile-up as it would signal Hibs were within touching distance of success on two fronts.
With Capital rivals Hearts having all but clinched the Championship title – a mammoth 20 points out in front – Alan Stubbs’ side are aiming to battle their way back to the Premiership via the play-offs.
But the Easter Road outfit are still in the Scottish Cup, red-hot favourites to make the semi-finals with a home tie against League Two side Berwick Rangers on Sunday week raising the possibility of gruelling finale to the season.
The cup final is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 30, but, it is understood, the two-legged encounter which would decide whether the second-bottom Premiership side would retain their top-flight status or be replaced by a Championship club, is pencilled in to take place the preceding Thursday and the day after the Hampden showdown.
Finishing second, third or fourth would put Hibs in the play-offs but taking the runners-up spot would reduce the number of games to be played. However, Gray insisted he wouldn’t care how many matches Stubbs’ players might have to play so long as they clinched promotion.
Asked if he and his team-mates were confident they can do so, the 26-year-old said: “Definitely. On our day I think we are a match for anyone as we have shown already this season. If we play well then we’ll win nine times out of ten.
“We’re looking to finish the season really strongly to put us in the play-offs. We could play four or six games but we’d like to finish second because then it would only be four and, I think, we’d have the psychological edge having finished above the teams in third and fourth. Ideally, we want second but I would take fourth and going up.”
Gray admitted the fact Hibs could be fighting on two fronts and the potential fixture chaos that might provoke hasn’t escaped him and his team-mates. He said: “That’s something that would obviously get sorted out although I don’t know how it would work.
“The most important thing, though, is to put ourselves in a position where that does become a problem. It would be a good problem to have, a Scottish Cup final is what everyone wants to achieve. We want to go as far as we can in the competition but, at the same time, the most important thing is to try to get promoted.
“As far as the cup is concerned, first and foremost we can only look at the next game and Berwick Rangers. They’ll come here as massive underdogs with nothing to lose but that can be very dangerous. We have to make sure we approach the game properly.”
The same applies to Saturday’s Championship match away to Alloa Athletic, a venue with a plastic pitch which has proved tricky for Hibs who lost there early in the season but won in the Scottish Cup with Gray himself heading home the clinching goal.
He said: “The surface doesn’t help. It’s the same for both teams but it isn’t ideal. However, it’s not going to be a shock for us. We know all about it and it’s not going to be an excuse. We know they’ll be in our faces, trying to make it hard for us and we have to match them in all departments.
“They are fighting for their lives, trying to keep out of the play-offs at the bottom of the table while we are trying to get into them at the other end. We are under no illusions that it’s going to be an easy game. They’ve beaten us and had a couple of good results against Rangers, but we’ll be going there with confidence, looking to maintain the momentum we are trying to build.”