Hibs ‘can grow as a team’ in race to make top six, insists Mark Milligan

Mark Milligan has expressed relief at being able to draw a line under a period of “unrest” at Hibernian, insisting there is still ample time to make this a campaign to remember.

Mark Milligan has expressed his relief at the 'unrest' at Easter Road being brought to an end. Picture: SNS Group

The Australian midfielder acknowledges that the shock departure of Neil Lennon last month and subsequent search for his successor created a sense of uncertainty in the dressing room, despite being no stranger to the scenario.

The fact Hibs had endured a five-game winless streak in the Premiership when news of Lennon’s initial suspension broke only served to exacerbate the feeling of disquiet, even if those within the club maintained they were relaxed about the situation.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Little wonder that Milligan is relishing the opportunity to look to the future rather than dwell on that drama.

Paul Heckingbottom looked composed on the touchline as the new Hibs boss guided his team to a 2-0 win over Hamilton Accies. Picture: SNS

A new era at Easter Road began in earnest on Saturday as Paul Heckingbottom oversaw a comfortable 2-0 triumph over Hamilton in his maiden match in charge of the Hibees, already moving them to within three points of the top six.

“I’ve been in this sort of situation before, when people leave and new managers come in,” said the 33-year-old. “It’s always difficult.

“There was a little bit of the unknown when Neil [Lennon] left, we didn’t know who was coming in and how things would change. It wasn’t an unease, just a little unrest – because you don’t know what is going to happen.

“We went through what we went through. That’s always there. But we can use that experience to spur us on.

“Now that we have a new manager we can just focus on what he wants from us. Everything is clear, it is positive. We have a simple focus again: playing good football and getting results.”

While usurping St Johnstone in sixth spot is the initial priority for Hibs, there is also the mouth-watering prospect of a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Celtic to come, and Milligan believes this season could yet have a glorious crescendo.

“We definitely have the players to turn this season around,” continued Milligan. “We are fortunate that it’s not too late to put things right. We have good players who are willing to learn and we can grow as a team.”

A storybook start for Heckingbottom was effectively assured during a heartening first 45 for the hosts.

The first goal arrived courtesy of a patient, expansive passing move, with two switches of play in quick succession allowing Daryl Horgan the time and space to whip a sumptuous in-swinging cross from the left flank. The ball drifted into the far corner of the net, with Flo Kamberi wheeling away in celebration, claiming to have got a decisive touch.

Hibs did double their advantage prior to the interval when Marc McNulty coolly slotted home a penalty kick after 
Lennard Sowah had foolishly barrelled into David Gray.

“You could see in patches what the new manager is trying to implement with us,” added Milligan. “It’s really exciting to look forward to another week of training and information.”