Lewis Stevenson: Hibs will benefit from time apart on break

Lewis Stevenson means no offence, but he is really looking forward to not seeing his team-mates for a few days and he thinks the whole of the Hibernian side will benefit from some time apart.

Lewis Stevenson means no offence, but he is really looking forward to not seeing his team-mates for a few days and he thinks the whole of the Hibernian side will benefit from some time apart.

A hectic schedule has meant the players living in each other’s pockets and the games have not always gone well. Three Championship defeats in a row were followed by Hampden heartache in the League Cup final then a terrific win at Inverness in the Scottish Cup before this latest league setback.

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“We need to recharge the batteries,” admitted Stevenson before the international break which pushes the Leith team’s next appearance back to 2 April at St Mirren. “The guys have seen a lot of each other recently. We’ve been in almost every day for three weeks straight. In any job it’s tough having to go into work every day. We’ve got a good spirit at the club but there are times when it’s nice to not have to see people. Hopefully we’ll clear our heads, rest our bodies and come back stronger.”

The players will be consoled by the fact that Paul Hanlon, Fraser Fyvie and Dylan McGeouch should be back from injury by the time they resume the battle for promotion as all of them have been missed. But the men in possession of the shirts at the moment will also have the warning from Alan Stubbs ringing in their ears that performances like the one in Kirkcaldy could force them out of the starting 11 in any case. “The manager has told us that no one is safe after what happened in this game and that we’ve all got to fight for our places,” added Stevenson, who admitted that against Raith Rovers they’d been careless at both ends of the park. He went further: the problems went back some way and had been masked by the results. “I don’t think we’ve been playing well going back to Christmas. This [slump] has been a wee while coming to be honest and we need to get out of it quick.”

Second place is still in Hibs’ hands but there’s now no margin for error. “We’ve got a battle on our hands,” admitted Stevenson. “We’ve been fighting on three fronts recently and I don’t want to use that as an excuse but we’ve played a lot of football. The league is our priority and we want to finish second.”

Anthony Stokes fired Hibs into the lead but Raith equalised through Lewis Toshney with what the player admitted was a lucky strike. “The ball ricocheted off Liam Fontaine and I kind of slide-tackled it into the net,” he smiled.

Mark Stewart scored the winner in the second half to reinforce the Fifers’ fourth place. Toshney hoped the victory had put down a marker. Success in the play-offs would require Raith to beat the division’s big boys, something they had not done until Saturday. Getting the better of Hibs, he said, was “massive”.

“They’re a great side and they got a big result through the week but we knew they’d be leggy because they’ve played a lot of matches. It was up to us to try and put them on the back foot which I think we did.”