Darren McGregor has insisted Hibs’ Scottish Cup defeat by arch-rivals Hearts won’t derail the Easter Road outfit’s bid for a place in next season’s Europa League.
Don Cowie’s late goal ended an unbeaten run of nine derbies for Hibs – which included knocking Hearts out of the cup in consecutive seasons – but McGregor claimed Neil Lennon’s players had no time to feel sorry for themselves as they began to prepare for tomorrow night’s Premiership clash with Dundee at Dens Park.
Hibs go into their first league match since the winter break sitting in fourth place, five points clear of their Edinburgh neighbours, a position McGregor is intent on holding or even improving on before the end of the season.
The defender said: “We’d gone nine games undefeated against them, knocked them out of the cup twice but it had to end sometime. We were just disappointed it happened in the manner it did.
“But we need to dust ourselves down and be ready to go again tomorrow night with another big game against Celtic to come on Saturday. We felt a bit sorry for ourselves after the derby but yesterday it was back to business, looking to train well with games coming thick and fast over the next couple of weeks.
“The league is the only thing for us now, the most important thing from here on in. We’re fourth at the moment which has to be the benchmark for us. A place in the Europe League has to be our target and if we can improve on where we are sitting at the moment, great.”
Having enjoyed a three-week break, Hibs now find themselves facing four games in 14 days but goalkeeper Ofir Marciano believes they can cope with that testing schedule, saying: “If you know how to manage that, how to rest, take care of yourself and prepare properly then you are in the best shape for it.
“It was the worst feeling ever losing a derby. I don’t think we deserved to win, but I think we could have drawn it and taken it back to Easter Road. We know what the cup is to Hibs fans and we wanted to go as far as we could but now we are focused on the league, Hopefully we can go on a good run and take the points we need as our goal is to get into Europe.”