Haris Vuckic has claimed Rangers have the edge over Hibs ahead of their play-off clashes after winning the last match between the two clubs at Easter Road.
Alan Stubbs’ side had beaten the Ibrox outfit three times on the spin before going down to goals from Lee Wallace and Kenny Miller, a defeat which caused a minor wobble for the Capital side before they regained momentum and took second place in the Championship table.
That finish delayed their entry to the play-offs, leaving them to await the winners of the quarter-final, Rangers yesterday squeezing past Queen of the South 3-2 on aggregate after the second leg of the double-header ended in a 1-1 draw in Govan.
Hibs now travel to Ibrox on Wednesday night before facing Rangers again in Edinburgh on Saturday with Stubbs’ players having enjoyed an 18-day break, a week of which was spent training in the sunshine of Spain, since completing the regular season with a 3-0 win over Falkirk.
However, Vuckic, who conjured up a goal-line clearance to prevent Derek Lyle, scorer of Queens’ opener which was cancelled out by Lee Wallace, taking yesterday’s match into extra-time, insisted he couldn’t work out whether having a break was to Hibs’ benefit.
He said: “It could be an advantage, or it could be a negative. We have two days to recover but we might have an advantage because we have match fitness. We’ve played two games, they’ve had 18 days training. They’ve probably had some friendlies - but that is nothing compared to play-off games.”
Asked if it was psychologically important knowing Rangers had beaten Hibs last time out, the on-loan Newcastle United defender said: “It was great confidence for us, it was good to know we can beat them.
“They’d beaten us but we showed we can do it, 2-0 was a great win and I am confident we can do that again.”
Rangers boss Stuart McCall, though, was predicting two tough matches against Hibs but believes the Ibrox crowd - yesterday’s attendance of 48,035 was the biggest of the season - can play a part, describing the atmosphere as “going back to my day as a player.”
He did, though, admit his side had made qualifying for the play-off semi-final more nervous than it should have been, scorning numerous chances before being hit by Lyle’s sucker punch.
But insisting he believes his side doesn’t have to improve for Hibs, McCall said: “I thought we played some really good football only for them to score with their first real attack. However, I think we proved a lot of people wrong, they’d have been thinking ‘Rangers have bottled it’ or are looking a bit flakey but we said at half-time if we keep creating - and we have creative players - then we will make more opportunities.
“We were a bit tense in the last ten or 15 minutes when Queens had nothing to lose - but it’s job done.”
Having said that, McCall believes the double-header with Hibs will prove to be just as nervy. He said: “Hibs are a good side, but so are we. I think it will be two tight games. Hibs have been here and won, we’ve been there and won.”
And McCall insisted he couldn’t answer when questioned whether a break or to continue playing was and advantage or not.
He said: “People ask me what I would have done. Eighteen days is a bit long but I am sure they are recharged and refreshed but the carrot is too big to be tired mentally or physically. We won’t have any tiredness, we will be ready to go.”