Pat Fenlon has claimed Saturday’s clash with in-form Dundee United is a bigger match than Hibs’ Hampden showdown against Aberdeen as the Easter Road outfit battle for their SPL survival.
But now boss Fenlon is looking for those crestfallen stars to show they are “hurting and smarting” when they face a United side gunning for a place in Europe and on a high following their win over Rangers last weekend.
He said: “When we have had a defeat over the last while we have responded quite well and we will be looking for that again, for people to be hurting and smarting. They have taken a little bit of criticism over the week and the way to get over that is by winning football matches.
“Everyone was patting us on the back for getting to the semi-final; this week everyone wants to give us a kick up the rear. That’s football. You cannot take all the praise and criticism to heart – you need a balance.
“You need to understand people will have a dig when it’s not going well and will be all over you when it is, so it’s all how they react and they have to react positively.”
Fenlon conceded, however, that Hibs face a tough task against a Tannadice outfit unbeaten in their past seven league matches, a run which has pushed them into fourth place in the table.
He said: “Outside Celtic, United are the ones who have been on a fantastic run. I have seen a fair bit of them, I saw them beat Inverness 3-0 which was perhaps harsh on Caley but they have some decent players and a confidence about them.
“We are scrapping for everything. Everything depends on staying in this league: livelihoods, people’s ambitions all depend on us being in the SPL. We have a semi-final coming up, but this is a bigger game than that.”
Meanwhile, Fenlon has branded claims he was head-butted and his assistant Billy Brown punched by striker Leigh Griffiths during a training ground bust-up as “rubbish”.
Revealing Griffiths will be part of his squad this weekend, Fenlon said: “There’s nothing at all in the story. We just want to focus on winning games and getting up the table.”