The key factor Hibs hope will make difference in top-six race

Hibernian manager Nick Montgomery and assistant Sergio Raimundo at training today.Hibernian manager Nick Montgomery and assistant Sergio Raimundo at training today.
Hibernian manager Nick Montgomery and assistant Sergio Raimundo at training today.
Monty’s men heading in right direction ahead of back-to-back must-win games

Hibs hope the momentum built during their recent league run can carry them into the top six. But Nick Montgomery insists he’s only focusing on the things he can control, in a race that has seen Dundee reclaim a key advantage down the closing stretch.

The Easter Road gaffer, who welcomes Craig Levein’s St Johnstone to Leith tomorrow afternoon, knows that maximum points from the final two pre-split fixtures are a must. Even if they get wins over the Perth side and away to Motherwell next weekend, however, Dundee – with three games left on their dance card – could pip them to the final spot in the top six.

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Monty is confident that his team are capable of racking up back-to-back wins to at least keep the pressure on the Dark Blues, with a six-game unbeaten run in the league – before last weekend’s battling 3-1 loss to Rangers at Ibrox - convincing him that they’re on the right path, the Yorkshireman explaining: “I think January was really important for us. We had an opportunity to build some momentum by bringing in some quality players.

“We’ve definitely gone on an upward trajectory, one defeat in seven, away at Ibrox to a very good team. We’ve got an opportunity to finish the season strongly, with two games remaining before the split. All we can do is continue with that momentum and take confidence going into tomorrow’s home come.

“Of course the aim at the start of the season is to make the top six. I came in a bit into the season, but the target was the same.

“We’ve still got an opportunity to get there. The ambitions of this club, the expectation, is that we’re a top-six team. But no-one has a divine right to be there. We’ve got two really important games coming up. That’s all I can focus on.

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“The way the league is designed, if you get in that top six, you get a chance to fight for the European spots. I’m under no illusions that this club sees itself in the top six. As a manager of this club, that’s where I want to be.

“At this time of the season, everybody is fighting for something. That’s why they designed the league the way they did, with the split. We’ve been approaching every game in the same manner for the last couple of months, really. The next two games are very important to us as a club.

“But all we can prepare for is tomorrow’s game against St Johnstone. At this stage of the season, they are important games for every team, for different reasons.

“We can’t worry about what happens. We can only control the things within our control, which is getting three points tomorrow, going in well prepared and then moving on to the next game.”