PAT FENLON has revealed Ryan McGivern and Tim Clancy will face late fitness tests ahead of tomorrow’s derby with Hearts, but insisted if they are fit they will play at Tynecastle.
McGivern has been struggling to shake off the leg injury he picked up during last weekend’s abandoned match against Kilmarnock, while Clancy has been troubled by a “niggle.” If both were to miss out, it would mean Fenlon reshaping his back four with, presumably, Alan Maybury slotting in at right back with Lewis Stevenson taking over on the left flank.
But underlining his determination to field as strong a side as possible despite the Scotish Cup final being only a fortnight away as Hibs bid to negotiate an entire season without losing a derby for the first time in 12 years, Fenlon is determined to give both McGivern and Clancy every chance.
He said: “Ryan has had scans and everything has come back clear. He is still sore, but did some light stuff yesterday morning. Tim has a little niggle, so both of them will be looked at.
“I have a team in my head, but if players are fit and they are in my plans, then they will play.”
Fenlon, of course, not only has tomorrow’s lunchtime clash in Gorgie to consider, but the rearranged match with Kilmarnock on Wednesday and the final SPL game against Dundee next Saturday to take into account as the countdown to the final against Celtic begins in earnest.
However, having seen his side miss out on a top six finish, Fenlon is determined to end the season with a flourish. He said: “I want to finish at the top of the bottom six because our target was to be in the top six and we haven’t done that. The next best thing is to finish seventh and that’s still the aim. I think we have to embrace the next two weeks and I’ve said that to the players. There are a lot of clubs maybe thinking, ‘oh, let’s just get this out of the way and go on holiday. But we’ve got a massive game on Sunday, then two league games that can help us in a real good position.
“And, at the end of that, we’ve got a fantastic day out at Hampden trying to win the Scottish Cup. It doesn’t get any better than that for the players.
“For us we have to keep the intensity up. We’ve got to stay at a level where we keep going and win matches, which means playing at a real high intensity.”
Hibs go into tomorrow’s match having slipped a point behind their Capital rivals, but do, of course, have that game in hand. But Fenlon insisted Hearts will have found his side much tougher opponents this season than they have for a while, even if the Easter Road outfit haven’t recorded a league win against them in four years.
The Irishman said: “The fact Hearts have gone above us doesn’t change anything, I want to beat them. I’m not worried about where they are in the table, I’m only worried about us. We need to go and perform there and, if we win there and win our game in hand. It will set us up nicely for the last game.
“I think we have definitely made the games against them more competitive this year than they have been for a few seasons. I thought last year we rolled over too easily against them, but now the games have been very tight with very little in them. They probably all could have gone a different way. We haven’t jumped ahead of them in any way at the moment,
but that’s the gradual plan, to try to get ourselves competitive and then try to kick on from there.”