Playing after Rangers not an issue for Hibs boss

Alan Stubbs and his players have successfully clawed back Rangers before
Alan Stubbs and his players have successfully clawed back Rangers before
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Alan Stubbs today insisted that playing after Championship title rivals Rangers tomorrow won’t bother his Hibs players.

The Ibrox club have the chance to open up an 11-point gap on the second-placed Hibees when they face basement outfit Alloa. Stubbs’ side won’t be in action at Livingston until after that game at the Indodrill Stadium has finished as they kick off at 5.15pm for live coverage on BBC ALBA.

However, Stubbs believes his players – who have now only been defeated once in 25 matches – are building such a head of steam they’ll take that inconvenience in their stride.

He claimed: “That won’t affect us because, whether the players know the result or not, they are actually in the zone. They know what they need to do. We have had that before and have coped with it. If it was the other way round, it could help but, if it is 11 points, then we have have to do our job and bring it down to eight again.”

And Stubbs is also adamant his players won’t be distracted by Tuesday night’s Scottish Cup replay with Capital rivals Hearts, insisting promotion to the Premiership will alway take precedence over both that match and next month’s League Cup final against Ross County.

The Easter Road head coach said: “We are rolling from one game to another and tomorrow is more important than the derby. The league will always take precedence over the cups, even though we are doing so well in them.

“The main priority is still promotion. I think the momentum this generates is great. It’s fantastic for the fans and the players just keep producing right now. It’s a huge help to have so many massive games because it helps to keep their focus all the time, right on the edge.

“They need to go from one game – finish – and then straight onto the next game. Now we are into the home straight and every game is a big game. We are vying for three competitions and it is taking care of everything.”

Stubbs has no problems in bringing his players down from the high they clearly enjoyed on Sunday in fighting back from two goals down against Hearts at Tynecastle to snatch a 2-2 draw thanks to late goals from Jason Cummings and Paul Hanlon.

He said: “When you have a really good group of lads, it is very easy to focus the minds. I want them to enjoy it. How can you not enjoy getting results? I’ve got no problem with that.

“They had Monday off and were in Tuesday. It’s gone, forgotten. I gave them Wednesday off but they were back in yesterday and were fully focused on Livingston.”

The Easter Road side’s celebrations – the Proclaimers anthem Sunshine on Leith was blasting from the away dressing-room after the final whistle at Tynecastle – drew comment from Hearts boss Robbie Neilson, who said: “The Hibs players singing like that is a good sign. It shows as a team coming to Tynecastle and getting a draw they are ecstatic.”

But Stubbs’ reaction was simple: “Glass houses. We didn’t have a problem with them celebrating their last-minute goal at Easter Road [Alim Ozturk’s equaliser a year past October] so, as I say, glass houses. We got ourselves back in to the game and I personally feel we fully justified what we got out of it.

“We did very well in the last 30 minutes, supposedly. So I need to commend my team for doing that.”

• Hibs have announced that season-ticket holders will now have until 3pm tomorrow to purchase their reserved seat for Tuesday night’s Scottish Cup fifth-round replay against Hearts.

The Easter Road club had earlier set a deadline of this morning but, owing to “an issue” a number of supporters have had buying child tickets online and through the their call centre, that has now been extended.

At the expiry of the renewed deadline, sales will come offline and any remaining unsold seats will be available on general sale to supporter on the database from 10am on Monday.