Hibernian striker Farid El Alagui knows his former Brentford boss Mark Warburton achieved “amazing” feats with the English Championship club – but the forward is confident he can come out on top as they battle for promotion.
Hibs finished above Rangers in the Ladbrokes Championship last season but lost in the play-offs to the Ibrox side before Motherwell swept to victory in the final.
Rangers are looking for major improvement after appointing Warburton as manager following an unsettling season when Ally McCoist, Kenny McDowall and Stuart McCall all sat in the hot seat.
But Hibs are also looking to go one better after making a slow start last term following the late arrival of Alan Stubbs as head coach of a much-changed squad.
El Alagui told HibsTV: “I know Mark Warburton well because he was sports director when I signed for Brentford. Then he became the manager but I left straight away on loan to Dundee United.
“I spent a year and a half with him. He is a really good guy, I have no issues with him at all. I think he is a good manager. When you look at what he achieved with Brentford, it is amazing.
“It will be a good battle. I’m excited to face him and to fight for promotion. But, once again, like last year, we have nothing to fear. We have a strong team and we are Hibernian and we don’t have to look at other teams. If we focus on ourselves, I’m really confident that we can get promoted.”
El Alagui missed the bulk of the campaign with an Achilles injury but he impressed in the final stages and is looking to carry on where they left off.
“At the end of last season I couldn’t wait to start the new season because we want to finish what we started,” the former Falkirk player said.
“I’m really excited. Some good players are signing for us and when you see players like Liam Fontaine, Martin Boyle and Lewis Stevenson extending their contracts, it shows players want to be here and build a strong, strong team for next season and the seasons coming.”
El Alagui should be fit for the kick-off despite undergoing clean-up surgery on his left knee. He said: “I might start slower than the group and take a little more time to get back into it, but I don’t think it will be too long.”