Hibs boss Neil Lennon will face some tough decisions before naming his team for the final game of the season with all his players anxious to enjoy tomorrow’s Championship title party, first-team coach Grant Murray claimed today.
And, he insisted, the Hibees will treat the visit of St Mirren – still looking for a single point to totally avoid the threat of relegation – as an opportunity to show their appreciation to the fans who have been behind them on the road back to the Premiership with a bumper gate of around 19,000 clamouring to see the trophy presentation which will follow the match. It will be the third game in succession the Capital side have faced a team battling to hold onto their place in the Championship with Raith Rovers and Ayr United having already been defeated and, warned Murray, Saints can expect no favours.
He said: “There will be no let-up – not at all. It’s a game of football. It’s no different from any other week. You want to win and I’m sure the team that’s selected will want to go out there and do well.
“It’s a home game, an opportunity to show their appreciation to the fans and to lift the trophy. As football players, with what they’ve put in this season, they’ll feel a sense of relief as well. It’s a chance for them to go and enjoy the day because it has been tough.
“Everyone expects a club of Hibs’ size to win the league but you have to go out there and do it. It’s never easy winning a championship. Winning the Scottish Cup was unbelievable when you look at how long it took them to get that trophy again, but the main aim over those three years for the football club would always have been to get promotion It was difficult. It was a unique situation with Rangers, Hearts and Hibs ending up in the Championship. It was going to be tough. But I’m sure, with all the hard work that’s been put in, everyone will feel that sense of relief and excitement as well. It’s an exciting time for the football club ... back in the Premiership.”
While Lennon has used all his players to a greater or lesser extent throughout the season, Murray insisted the Hibs boss faces difficult choices tomorrow, saying: “Everyone will want to play. It will be difficult for the manager because only eleven can start and only three subs can go on but I don’t see him treating it any different from any other game.
“The guys know that every player in the squad has contributed this season and they will receive their medal as well. But they will all still want to play. As a player, if you have played in just about every game or just a handful, you want to finish the season in the team.
“Regardless of what team goes out, you want to win – especially when you are at home in front of what could be the biggest crowed we have had in a long time, You know you are getting that trophy and medal at the end of the day but the aim is to win the game and make Easter Road a very happy place.”