Paul Heckingbottom believes increased fitness levels at Hibs may make it more difficult for players to break back into the first team.
Heckingbottom says Darnell Johnson, Steven Whittaker and Thomas Agyepong are all moving back towards full fitness after injuries, while recent signing Jonathan Spector is also getting up to speed after not playing a first-team match since last September.
While none of that quartet are expected to feature against Kilmarnock at Easter Road on Wednesday night, Heckingbottom has challenged them to force their way into his plans before the end of the season.
“Darnell, Thomas and Whitts have been training, and Jonathan has had another week so they’re the positives,” said Heckingbottom.
“It’s only Jonathan out of those boys who has had game time so we have to build them up and get them ready. Because of the work we’ve been doing with the guys in the side, and how hard they’ve been working – the fitness levels – the benchmark has probably gone a bit higher for these guys to get back in. It’s our job to work with them and make sure they’re ready.”