Martin Boyle has insisted Hibs’ stirring fightback which almost ended Celtic’s record-breaking unbeaten run has filled the Easter Road outfit with belief they can repeat their Ibrox victory over Rangers tomorrow night.
The lightning-fast winger admitted the managerless Govan club’s recent results – three wins on the bounce including back-to-back victories over Aberdeen – will have lifted their confidence.
But Boyle is adamant he and his team-mates have what it takes to keep the heat on in the race for second place in the table. Hibs sit fourth, three points behind Rangers and Aberdeen – whom they face at Pittodrie at the weekend – but, like head coach Neil Lennon, he firmly believes the Capital side can remain very much in the mix.
He said: “He still stands by that; he has been there and done it with Celtic and he wants to be challenging again. We have a good squad, perhaps we can’t challenge for the title but second place, yes.”
Playing the Premiership’s top three teams in the space of just six days is, admitted the 24-year-old, a tough task but one which everyone at Easter Road is relishing as where they stand come Saturday night will give a good indication of how capable Hibs are of vindicating Lennon’s assertion that they can be “best of the rest”.
“It’s a good week for us, a tough task, but that’s why we are in the league,” said Boyle. “We want to challenge and we believe we can. Come through these three games unscathed and we have a chance of doing it.”
While conceding they have perhaps let themselves down at times this season – losing to Hamilton at home after beating Rangers at Ibrox for example – Boyle insisted Lennon’s players always rise to the occasion when faced by the likes of the Old Firm. Joking that “not very much happened” last time Hibs met Rangers, Boyle believes Lennon also thrives in such an atmosphere, the Hibs boss on the receiving end from the home fans at Ibrox for his touchline antics.
The former Montrose and Dundee man said: “The boss is a fiery character, it brings the best out of him. He loves games like this.”
That game in August, which Hibs won 3-2, was the first clash between the teams since they met in the Scottish Cup final in May 2016, won, of course, by the Capital outfit by the same scoreline as they finally ended their 114-year hoodoo.
And Boyle believes tomorrow night’s match could prove just as entertaining. “They are great games to play in, everyone wants to be playing against the Old Firm teams, everyone raises their game.
“Rangers have had three wins on the bounce but we focus on ourselves, dust ourselves down from the weekend, watch some DVDs of them and prepare for tomorrow night.”
Asked what he made of the “Derek McInnes saga” in which Rangers and the Dons became embroiled before Graeme Murty was left in interim charge of the Ibrox club, Aberdeen-born Boyle said: “It was a bit crazy, it went on for a while. I thought the other day he was going to go, obviously not.
“But it’s not our say to talk about other clubs. We focus on ourselves and let them deal with it.”