Pat Fenlon today claimed he will not give Hibs’ impending Scottish Cup final a second thought when he picks his team for Sunday’s final Edinburgh derby of the season.
There have been calls from some sections of the Easter Road support for key players such as top scorer Leigh Griffiths to be spared the potentially bruising encounter at Tynecastle with the Hampden showdown against Celtic only a fortnight away.
But Hibs boss Fenlon insisted the clash with Hearts is his priority as he seeks to extend – and better – Hibs’ unbeaten run against their Capital rivals this season.
Although Hibs knocked the Cup holders out of the competition at the first time of asking, the three SPL matches between the sides have ended in draws and Fenlon admitted he is desperately seeking a first League win over the Jambos in four years.
He said: “I know what the derby means to everyone. We have done all right against Hearts this year so we would obviously like to keep that going. Our record over there isn’t fantastic so we would like to change that with a win.
“That’s the priority at the moment. The Cup final is not really in my thoughts. It will take care of itself when the day comes. We will pick a team that I feel can win the game.
“The fact we have three games so tight together, playing next Wednesday and Saturday, will give me a chance to maybe look at nearly everybody before the Cup final.
“We’ll be able to spread the load a little bit, have a look at everyone playing and then we’ll worry about the cup final, but we definitely won’t be trying to weaken the team come Sunday.”
Sunday’s derby is the first of three games in just six days for Hibs as they bring their league campaign to a close and although it hasn’t brought the top-six finish which once looked assured, Fenlon wants to see his side bring the curtain down with good performances against Hearts, Kilmarnock and Dundee.
He said: “I would love to finish the league properly, to finish as high as we can in the bottom six. That would be important to me and that’s really what’s in my head, not the cup final. It’s important to finish the three games in the league strongly and get some momentum going to Hampden.”
Meanwhile, Hibs kids Danny Handling and Alex Harris have been named in the Scotland Under-20 squad which will play in the Ado Den Haag Youth Tournament which takes place in the Netherlands at the end of the month.