Hibs skipper looking up at Euro spots

Joe Newell insists Celtic loss doesn't alter ambition
Newell (right) and Hanlon applaud travelling fans at Celtic Park.Newell (right) and Hanlon applaud travelling fans at Celtic Park.
Newell (right) and Hanlon applaud travelling fans at Celtic Park.

Hibs remain fully focused on chasing the European dream as they recover from their early season doldrums. And captain Joe Newell says they’re only looking at the teams ahead of them in Scottish Premiership table – despite Wednesday night’s heavy midweek loss to Celtic in Glasgow.

Although Nick Montgomery’s men lost 4-1 at Celtic Park, defeats for Hearts and St Mirren meant they conceded no ground in the battle for UEFA spots. Sitting fifth, Hibs are two points behind their city rivals in third, one point adrift of the Buddies – but also just a point clear of sixth-placed Kilmarnock.

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In the final series of games before the winter shutdown, Hibs travel to play Livingston, St Johnstone and Ross County before welcoming Hearts to Easter Road the day after Boxing Day – and then rounding it all off at home to Motherwell on January 2.

Newell, who has deputised as skipper while club captain Paul Hanlon – a sub at Celtic Park – fights to get back into the starting XI, said he and his players are only looking  up, declaring: “Yeah, definitely. With the size of the club we play for and represent you can’t afford to look down.

“Even if we were sitting 10th we would still be focusing on European football. Now we have picked up after a bad start to the season, it is full steam ahead really. We are looking forward to it, we are full of confidence and momentum, regardless of last night.

“Every fixture for us is huge if we want to be where we want to be at the end of the season. The games before Christmas and the derby after Christmas are real opportunities for us.

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“We have got a massive game on Saturday and we have got huge fixtures coming up before the break that we are going to try and stamp our authority on. We will learn from last night, look at where we went wrong and take the positives. There was some good stuff as well. Then we will go again.”