Hibs star Melker Hallberg has no fears team will back-up derby win at Livingston

Melker Hallberg celebrates the derby victory at TynecastleMelker Hallberg celebrates the derby victory at Tynecastle
Melker Hallberg celebrates the derby victory at Tynecastle
Swedish star says Jack Ross has brought new energy to the team

Melker Hallberg believes Hibs are in a much happier position than they were last time they faced Livingston.

At the end of October – and at home – the Capital outfit had to come from behind to claim a draw against Gary Holt’s team, Martin Boyle stepping off the bench for the first time since recovering from a second knee operation to snatch a last-minute equaliser.

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A fifth successive draw coming just a few days after Paul Heckingbottom’s side had surrendered a two-goal lead against Ross County at Easter Road and followed by defeat in the Betfred Cup semi-final by Celtic which signalled the end of the Yorkshireman as head coach.

Just one point separated Hibs from the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership at that juncture and although there have been a few bumps along the way under Heckingbottom’s successor Jack Ross, today they sit fifth thanks to their Boxing-Day derby win against Hearts at Tynecastle.

And, insisted Hallberg, that result has added a spring to his team-mates’ step following back-to-back defeats by Celtic and Rangers.

The Swedish midfielder said: “We have been having a few good weeks apart from a couple of tough games against two good teams. I think we have been playing really well since Jack came in and getting good resutls. There is a more positive feeling in the group now.”

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Hallberg is expecting another tough physical encounter at the Tony Macaroni Arena but, claimed the former Udinese player, Ross’ side showed in Gorgie they can handle such a challenge.

“Just get out there and try to match it,” was the 24-year-old Swede’s answer as to how to approach the match. “I think everyone did well against Hearts, it was difficult but we stood up and had a good game.

“It was very enjoyable, it was a tough game, but winning was a very good feeling. The fans were fantastic throughout the whole game, it was a massive win for the club.”

Ross has explained that Hallberg has been forced to “learn on the job” playing at the base of a midfield diamond, a role which may be foreign to him but one he has adapted to well.

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While the head coach doesn’t intend to make major additions during the January transfer window, he did admit he doesn’t have a huge amount of options in central midfield particularly defensive-minded players in that area, the reason why Hibs are playing the way they are at present.

But Hallberg insisted he was happy enough to do what’s been asked of him saying: “I’ve been trying to do my best in every game, that’s my job. I just try to do my job, I don’t really know what he (Ross) thinks, if it’s good or bad, but hopefully it’s good.

“Jack has given me some good tips in the few weeks he has been here and that’s helped. I am just trying to adapt and do what’s best for the team.”