Fife Hyland insists Hibs were right to persist with Leigh Griffiths

MANAGING director Fyfe Hyland believes Hibs have been emphatically vindicated in their decision to keep faith with controversial striker Leigh Griffiths.

The on-loan Wolves player scored the winning goal in last weekend’s semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden as Hibs claimed a 2-1 victory to set up an all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final next month.

Prior to that, Griffiths scored a vital late winner away to Inverness as Hibs boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation earlier this month, while his 11 goals this season have made him one of the Easter Road side’s most important players.

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However, having fallen foul of the authorities an incredible three times for offensive gestures towards supporters – twice towards Hibs fans – his future at Easter Road appeared to be in serious doubt when reports surfaced of a bust-up between Griffiths and manager Pat Fenlon and his assistant Billy Brown at training in March.

The alleged furore was subsequently played down by Hibs, with the club insisting the striker’s future at the club was in absolutely no doubt.

Since then, Griffiths has gone a long way to repaying the faith in him by the club he supported as a boy.

Remarking on the well-publicised East Mains fall-out, and praising the player’s contribution at Easter Road, Hyland told STV: “There’s incidents at training grounds all over Scotland, players are training at such high intensity you’d be surprised if there weren’t.

“Leigh loves being at Hibs and all he wants to do is score for Hibs, like his strike partner Garry O’Connor.

“We’re lucky to have them here and we saw on Saturday that they were the difference between the teams.”

Hyland, who has announced he is leaving the club in the summer, also lavished praise on Fenlon for galvanising the club since he was brought in to replace Colin Calderwood in November.

Hyland believes Fenlon has instilled a winning mentality that has allowed a much-transformed Hibs side to creep towards safety while also reaching the final of the Scottish Cup.

Hyland said: “He’s changed the culture, he’s changed the majority of the squad in one transfer window and they’ve performed fantastically well.

“He’s created a real unit amongst the team and around the club and he’s put a real winning mentality together which is why he was appointed. He’s a winner.

“We’re only focused on the league just now, then on the cup. We’ll talk about the future of players after that.

Hyland insists the club will continue to back Fenlon in his plans to develop the squad for next season.

He added: “As ever Pat will be given every resource we’ve got to help build his team. This is a real opportunity for him to build something over a longer transfer window to construct a squad to compete next year.”