Hibs boss Alan Stubbs believes Rangers still remain favourites for promotion to the Premiership via the play-offs.
Stubbs’ side currently lie second in the Championship table, albeit on goal difference, with the six-point advantage they held over Rangers only a couple of weeks ago having vanished.
Many now believe the momentum has swung firmly the way of the Glasgow outfit – favourites to win the Championship title at the start of the season – in the race to finish runners-up to Hearts.
But, having lost out on the title, Stubbs believes the pressure is very much on interim Rangers manager Stuart McCall and his players, who now have to rely on the play-offs, a route Hibs themselves hope to take back to the top flight.
Head coach Stubbs said: “At the beginning of the season, Rangers were favourites. Hearts have done fantastic to finish so far ahead and, in all honesty, I don’t think anyone could have seen that happening.
“Rangers were favourites to go up with the players they have and they should still be favourites to go up through the play-offs – let’s not kid anyone. They have the biggest budget, more international players so the pressure is all on them.”
Nevertheless, Stubbs also believes that his team, their 2-0 defeat by Rangers a couple of weeks ago aside, are more than capable of matching the Govan club, a belief supported by the fact Hibs had won the three previous matches by an aggregate score of 9-1.
He said: “We want to go up. I feel as if we can compete, we are as good as them on our day, I don’t think anyone can question that. It’s what happens in the play-offs, whatever position the clubs finish in. If it’s third or fourth they have to try to come through that and then they will, potentially, play Rangers if they finish second.
“I hope not, I hope it is us.”
Long before the title was settled Stubbs and his players found themselves being overlooked, all talk being of a two-horse race between Hearts and Rangers even though Hibs were putting together a run of 15 matches unbeaten.
Stubbs said: “From the beginning of the season we were never an option to finish second. If we were ever going to finish second it would be because Rangers had thrown it away.
“We’ve had a couple of blips, but we are still where we want to be. Everyone should realise that. We are still second, Rangers have a game in hand [against Hearts on Sunday] but it is a really tough one.”