Terry Butcher today urged his Hibs players to “give it everything” over the next three games as they bid to keep their fading top-six hopes alive.
Although three successive wins for a side which has tasted victory just once in their last ten Scottish Premiership matches looks a tall order, the Easter Road boss is determined to see his players fight every inch of the way.
Butcher, however, admitted that even victories over St Johnstone, Hearts and Aberdeen might not be enough to push Hibs into the upper half of the table, with Saints, their rivals for sixth place, enjoying a four-point advantage as well as having a game in hand.
Hibs face a trip to McDiarmid Park on Saturday knowing defeat will end their top-six hopes but aware they won on their last trip to Perth while striker James Collins was convinced he was denied a last-minute penalty as the sides fought out a goalless draw in the Capital.
Butcher insists both of those performances should give his side encouragement.
He said: “We have to go up there and win, simple as that. Having won there already this season gives us confidence but Saints also know that they can secure top six and will be raring to go. I think it will be a good game for everyone to play in, but it’s up to us to go and do what we have been threatening to do at times.
“We know what we have to do, it’s straightforward. We have to give it everything. There’s a team in there, players who can do the business as we’ve seen in the past when they’ve won games and played well. We have to drag that from the past and into the future.”
As Hibs fans fret about the danger of being dragged into the battle to avoid the play-off place, it’s top against bottom throughout this weekend’s fixtures, meaning victory in Perth would not only ease worries in that regard but keep the top-six dream flickering.
Butcher, who threatened to replace some of those involved in the 3-1 defeat by Partick Thistle with youngsters, warned against paying too much attention to what might happen elsewhere. He said: “Other results are out of our hands. We require brave people, we require people whether they are young or old, experienced or inexperienced to stand up and be counted.”
n HIBS’ Under-20 side travel to fce St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park this evening (kick-off 6pm) seeking to keep up the pressure on Celtic and Rangers, who are tied at the top of the table two points ahead of the Easter Road kids, who have also played a game more.