Pat Fenlon orders Hibees to build on strong run

SMILES BETTER: Pat Fenlon is 'preparing his Hibs side to tackle a vitally important series of games. Picture:  Neil Hanna
SMILES BETTER: Pat Fenlon is 'preparing his Hibs side to tackle a vitally important series of games. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Pat Fenlon has urged his Hibs stars to build on the feelgood factor which has enveloped Easter Road as they prepare for a crunch double-header against Aberdeen and Capital rivals Hearts.

The Edinburgh club complete the first round of fixtures with a visit from the Dons on Saturday and go into the match having lost just one of their last eight Scottish Premiership games, knowing victory would see them leapfrog the Pittodrie outfit into fourth place.

They then face Hearts in the the League Cup, again at home, next Wednesday with a place in the semi-finals at stake in what Fenlon described as “a great period” for Hibs fans, still enjoying their team’s performance in earning themselves a draw with champions Celtic.

The Hibs boss said: “We have Aberdeen then Hearts – and we had Celtic at the weekend – so it’s all positive at the moment. Aberdeen are a good side and they have real attacking threats in there. Again, we’ll have to look at it and see what game plan we come up with.”

Fenlon will be forced into making at least one change to the side which took on Celtic with the full extent of the facial injury sustained by Michael Nelson late in the match expected to be revealed later today. But it is feared the centre half suffered a fractured eye socket and could be out of action for a number of weeks. Skipper James McPake, who has yet to start a league match this season after suffering a back spasm in the second leg of the Europa League tie against Malmo, will be a direct replacement, meaning minimal disruption to Fenlon’s back four.

Hibs, however, will be seeking to improve their home record against the Dons with just one of their five league games at Easter Road proving victorious, a fact which has led to midfielder Kevin Thomson suggesting the Capital ground is too welcoming for opposition teams rather than provoking a sharp intake of breath knowing what to expect.

He said: “It’s a fantastic stadium, a great place to play your football and the pitch is like a bowling green. They have a lovely big changing room, a lovely park. I think every team comes to Easter Road and enjoys playing here so we have to make it as difficult as we can, make sure we put our stamp on the game and that they are worrying about us rather than us worrying about them.”

Meanwhile, Hibs kid Ben Stirling has been named in Scotland’s Under-16 squad for next Thursday’s Victory Shield match against Wales in Aberystwyth.