O’Hanlon backs Hart to bounce back

Michael Hart
Michael Hart
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Michael Hart will use all his experience to emerge stronger from his below-par performance against Rangers at the weekend, says his Hibs defensive partner Sean O’Hanlon.

Hart made uncharacteristic errors during the 2-0 defeat and was responsible for gifting both of Rangers’ goals to Nikica Jelavic.

The former Livingston right-back hauled down Lee Wallace to concede a penalty that was subsequently netted by the Croatian striker, then failed to track Jelavic at a corner to allow the Gers striker to head his second goal.

But, O’Hanlon believes Hart can bounce back from his mistakes.

“Michael is experienced and, personally, he’s great to play alongside because he talks along the [defensive] line – non-stop talking,” said 28-year-old O’Hanlon. “It probably was a penalty, but the lad [Lee Wallace] could have stayed on his feet if he’d wanted to, so he’s been a little bit clever just by falling down.

“But, these things happen in football – I don’t think there’s one defender who’s gone through his career and not given away a penalty. You’ve just got to forget about it and go for the next game. He’s experienced enough to forget about that penalty decision.”

Hart made only his second appearance of the season on Saturday after he suffered a groin injury in an early-season friendly against Sunderland, and O’Hanlon thinks once his team-mate enjoys a run of games he will rediscover his best form.

“He definitely needs a run of games, he’s not played much football in the last 12 months or so,” said O’Hanlon. “He’s trained the last couple of weeks and he looks as fit as I’ve seen him. In a way, in the Motherwell game, 45 minutes might have been enough for him because of his injuries. His experience at the back is always good.”

Hibs will face Aberdeen at Pittodrie this Saturday lunchtime without their on-loan Wolves attacker Leigh Griffiths ,after the former Livingston man was handed a one-match ban for making a gesture towards Rangers fans during last weekend’s game at Easter Road.

Scottish FA compliance officer Vincent Lunny reviewed the incident, which was captured on television cameras, and has handed Griffiths a one-match ban under rule 200, which deems “offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures” as a red card offence.

The Dons will also be without a key man on Saturday after central defender Andrew Considine was sent off for two bookable offences in their 2-1 win at St Johnstone last night. The Dons moved off the footwith their first away victory of the season, leaving Hibs ahead of only Dunfermline on goal difference at the bottom.