Alan Stubbs admits Hibs will face a stern test of their credentials during an intense schedule of six games over the next three-and-a-half weeks.
After hosting Dumbarton, who beat them on the opening day of the season, this weekend, the Easter Road side face the Championship’s three other top-four sides, Falkirk, Raith Rovers and Rangers, in quick succession. Then there is the League Cup quarter-final at home to Dundee United, which comes just three days before a tricky trip to Paisley to face a St Mirren side who drew at Easter Road last month.
Stubbs believes his side, who have won six of their last seven matches, are well equipped to deal with the rigours of such a demanding sequence. “We’ve got a busy period coming up with an intense fixture list over the next two or three weeks so we have to make sure that everybody’s right and the squad’s in good health,” said the head coach.
“The team is in good form and I’m happy with where everything is. We’ve just got to keep performing and picking up results.”
In relation to Hibs’ prospects of hauling themselves back into title contention, the visit of Rangers on November 1 stands out as being of particular importance. The Ibrox team are currently 11 points clear of the Edinburgh side, who have a game in hand, so the upcoming Easter Road showdown is already looking like it could have a pivotal impact on Hibs’ chances. However, Stubbs insists his team have such a hazardous run of games coming up that they can’t afford to allow their focus to drift to what their rivals or doing or to a match which is still more than a fortnight away.
“Our focus is on what we do, not what Rangers do,” he said. “We’re not worrying about Rangers. They’ve started off really well but that doesn’t make a difference to us. Our focus is on Dumbarton, then Falkirk on Tuesday, then Raith Rovers and then it will turn to Rangers when that game comes round. We can’t think about that game just yet because we’ve got enough tough games before that.”