Calderwood: We must do way better

HIBS boss Colin Calderwood today revealed he's set no greater target for the coming season than to do "way, way better than last year".

The Easter Road outfit begin their quest to consign last season's miserable tenth place finish to the history books with a mouthwatering clash against SPL title favourites Celtic tomorrow.

But while convinced a "buoyant performance" will help Hibs fans put a troubled summer behind them, Calderwood declined to reveal what he thought would represent an acceptable season to the supporters, saying: "There's not a level or position in the table you aim at, or a target that we set but what we have to do is way, way better than last year."

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Calderwood, however, was adamant the long-running speculation regarding his own future won't have an impact on his players who, he revealed, had been asking him almost as often as members of the Press what was happening, with both Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest said to still be hoping to persuade him to become their assistant manager.

He said: "Anyone that has seen the way the boys have worked, the way we have gone about our jobs will see that nothing that's been written or talked about has affected us.

"I know the players are ready. They've asked me almost as much as you (the Press] have asked, there's been a gallows humour or workplace humour, the type of communication you would not have with them if they did not like your or you did not respect them.

"I've told them it's time to work, nothing has changed. I think they feel as if they have had a decent pre-season but we really need to improve on a Saturday or a Wednesday night, whenever we play, that's the telling time.

"It's nice being a professional footballer but even nicer if you can produce the ability you know they have and progress in the way I think they can, that's what this season will be about."

Hibs will go into tomorrow's match without striker Akpo Sodje as he recovers from a knee injury, full back Michael Hart who has suffered an ankle problem and midfielder Sean Welsh who is recuperating following surgery on the cheekbone which was fractured in a training ground bust-up with team-mate Martin Scott.

But Scott, who has been fined by the club for his part in the incident, has recovered from an ankle injury sustained against Livingston much quicker than expected, the midfielder featuring for the last few minutes of Hibs' final pre-season game at Falkirk.

Revealing Scott was in line to be involved tomorrow, Calderwood added: "Although he has missed 12 days he's naturally fit and probably one you can involve quicker than others so he is very much in contention."