HIBS manager Pat Fenlon today insisted that his side will not have one eye on their Scottish Cup semi-final against Falkirk on April 13 when they travel to Celtic Park this Saturday – even if they are already out of the top-six race.
The Easter Road outfit’s bid for the top half suffered a huge blow on Saturday after they were defeated 2-1 by Inverness at home and they could find themselves consigned to a slot in the bottom half of the SPL table on Wednesday night if sixth-placed Kilmarnock defeat St Mirren.
A victory for the Rugby Park side would see them move four points ahead of Hibs, with just one game remaining before the split.
Having watched his side fly high at the start of the season, Fenlon, pictured left, conceded that it would be a huge disappointment to miss out at this stage, but says that his players will be 100 per cent focused on getting three points when they face Celtic – whether the top six race is alive or not.
Fenlon said: “The cup match is an irrelevance at the moment. It’s not got to do with anything really. We had an opportunity at the weekend, a home game, to go and win and we haven’t done that. From my point of view, I would be very disappointed if we missed out.
“That is the target I set myself and the players – to get into the top six – and if we don’t do it I would be disappointed.
“I don’t think it was a fair result at all. We deserved something out of the game, I am not sure that we deserved to win it, but we didn’t deserve to lose it either.
“We have got one game left so we have got to give it our all. We go to Celtic Park, which is obviously a difficult venue, but we have got to be positive.
“It’s the only thing left for us, to go there and win and hope that the other results go for us as well.”
Hibs have now won just one of their last nine league matches at Easter Road, but Fenlon insisted that his team must
focus on the positives, believing that Hibs’ performances over those nine matches have been of a decent standard.
He stressed: “I disagree that we are poor at home. I think the performance was okay at the weekend and we’ve had some decent results. We haven’t lost too many. It’s typical of Hibs, you’re always looking on the negative.
“We have done okay this season, we have got one game left and we need to keep going. We have got the semi-final of the Cup to come, so we will look on the positives. That is what we have got to do.”
While Fenlon insisted that he could not criticise his players for their work-rate against Inverness on Saturday, he was unhappy with the manner that his side conceded their goals.
A looping effort from Ross Draper beat Ben Williams shortly after the restart and then a deflection off James McPake cancelled out Leigh Griffiths’ leveller and killed off Hibs’ hopes.
He said: “We need to make teams work harder to score against us. That is a key issue at the moment.”