McPake adamant on-loan Hibernian players are up for fight in basement

ON-LOAN Hibernian captain James McPake has dismissed suggestions the loan players at Easter Road will not be committed to the cause as Pat Fenlon’s side desperately try to battle their way out of relegation trouble.

McPake is one of eight loan players currently at Hibs, but is happy to be skipper, having performed the role at Livingston and Coventry.

The 27-year-old said: “If we head back down south having had a terrible four or five months, what are our parent clubs going to think?

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“It’s added pressure for the loan players to come up and perform. We want to impress people up here. Every one of the loan players are Hibs players just now. I’m a Hibs player at the moment and nothing else really matters.”

McPake also has a clear message for his team-mates ahead of today’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Kilmarnock, saying: “We need to defend for our lives, be strong, not give in and not concede silly goals like we have been doing”.

Hibs beat Kilmarnock 1-0 on 4 February to advance to the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals and drew 0-0 with Aberdeen in the SPL the following week. However, when faced with the SPL’s two form teams in their next two games, Hibs’ seemingly fortified defence disintegrated and conceded nine goals.

After losing 5-0 to Celtic and 4-3 at Motherwell, Hibs are looking to rediscover their mean streak at Rugby Park as they continue to battle for top-flight survival.

McPake said: “We didn’t do ourselves justice against Celtic. Against Motherwell we gave a good account of ourselves, scored three goals, but it comes back to doing the simple things and defending. It’s something we didn’t do and something we haven’t been doing all season – it has to change and quickly.

“We’ve got to be stronger, whatever happens. Against Kilmarnock we went a goal up and we held on. They put us under a lot of pressure, but we cleared everything and stood strong that day. Against Aberdeen again we were good. We’ve got to be mentally stronger, as individuals and as a team. If we do lose a goal, we shouldn’t crumble the way we do.”

The successive clean sheets suggested a brighter future at Easter Road after Fenlon’s busy January transfer window, but Hibs remain level on points with Dunfermline at the foot of the standings.

McPake, who joined on loan from Coventry in January, said: “We’ve got to get ourselves out of it. We’ve got the players to do it – I don’t doubt that – and we have got the fight. We needed to start turning it around weeks ago, but now more than ever we need to start picking points up. We need to stick together and be solid as a unit.

“We still feel if we can get a couple of results quickly we can drag other people into it. First and foremost we’ve got to forget about anything else, start doing the basics and doing whatever we need to do to win football matches.”

Kilmarnock produced an impressive victory against Rangers at Ibrox last weekend only to suffer a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Dundee United on Tuesday night, and defender Fraser Nelson expects Hibs to provide another tough test.

“To score three goals at Motherwell and still get beat, it’s not very often that happens,” he said. “They will probably feel a little hard done by. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t give them any incentives or any confidence. We’ve got to get right in amongst them and hopefully get an early goal and knock the stuffing out of them.”