Which players will get a clean slate at Hibs next season as Lee Johnson makes 'proper start' claim
The Easter Road side have had rotten luck on the injury front with a number of players missing huge chunks of the campaign but Johnson believes they are on course to finish the season strongly.
"I don’t want the season to finish. Physically, the squad is peaking – and I know that sounds like madness with three games left of the season, but when good players like Kevin Nisbet, as an example, return to their physical peak, that is strong and quite a powerful place to be for a club like us,” he explained.
"I am excited about next season because everything what I do know now is going into next season, every player starts with a clean slate physically, including Martin Boyle and the players like Élie Youan. There are a lot of lads there, Rocky Bushiri is another, who get to start on the same level as everybody else. Harry McKirdy is another one; it has been very bitty for him this season in terms of injuries, form, fitness, all the bits and bobs, but he can almost wipe the slate clean and next season is a proper start for him.”
Hibs have three huge games inside seven days as they host Rangers and Celtic, before making the short hop across town to face Hearts on the final day of the season in what could be a straight shoot-out for fourth. Hibs are unbeaten in four and Johnson believes his players are hitting their stride – despite the limited number of games remaining.
“We've got ourselves in a position where we can deliver a form of success if we have a good six days next week,” he said. "We've got the opportunity to qualify for Europe. I'd love it to have been third, although that's a real long shot. Fourth isn't unrealistic, and fifth – if you're a betting man – has a good chance, even though there's a lot to do. We know Celtic have got to do the fifth-place team a favour [by winning the Scottish Cup final], therefore we need to go and try to stake a claim for fourth place."