Title is in Hibs' hands insists John McGinn

He may have been holed up in his room at the Scotland team hotel in Bishopton on Saturday, but, in spirit, John McGinn was in Leith.

Hibernian's John McGinn missed the win over Falkirk because he was on Scotland duty. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Hibernian's John McGinn missed the win over Falkirk because he was on Scotland duty. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

With his presence requested in the national squad as they prepared for the vital World Cup qualifier against Slovenia, he was missing the chance to help his Hibernian team-mates take another giant step towards the Championship title with a win over Falkirk.

“I was just in my room on my own but I was as nervous as anything,” said the midfielder. “I got the Hibs game on the iPad in my hotel room and I think the entire hotel heard my celebrations when Keatsy unleashed that goal. I think I was just as delighted as the boys. I was running about daft in my room – my reaction was basically the same as the boys on the pitch!”

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Not quite the same as Efe Ambrose, who had opened the scoring and celebrated with his renowned acrobatics but, with joy unconfined, he says it was as though he was joining in with the celebrations in the capital as James Keatings’ curled in his last-gasp winner.

While the Easter Road side achieved the crucial 2-1 victory without McGinn, he is delighted to be back in the fold as they try to quash the hopes of their only remaining realistic rivals, Morton, tonight.

Hibs currently enjoy a ten-point cushion, but the Greenock side have a game in hand, and know there will be another head-to-head with the leaders, in the west, a week on Saturday. Which renders tonight’s meeting pivotal. If Hibs win, matters will be all but settled but McGinn won’t rest until that situation is formalised.

“There have been a few times that people have said it was all but over and we got complacent, that can’t happen,” he said. “We know how important it is for this club to go back up and over the course of the season we have been the best team and it is up to us to prove that in the final seven games. Morton, along with Falkirk, are our nearest challengers and this is the chance to make the gap even bigger. We don’t want to give the teams chasing us any hope. It is in our hands.”

Which, after a weekend watching both Hibs and Scotland negotiate vital matches, is the way McGinn likes it. “The weekend was a strange situation, but the important thing was Hibs managed to get another important three points and so did Scotland,” he added. “It worked out well in the end, but I hope it isn’t a situation I’m in again.”

It had been suggested that, after the midweek friendly with Canada, McGinn may have been allowed to head back to his club if he wasn’t likely to be utilised against Slovenia. In the end, although he had to settle for a place on the bench, he was deemed worth hanging on to by his Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, leading to mixed emotions for the player.

“It was a good thing I was still with the squad, I think that shows what the coaching staff think of me and I was close to being involved. It was a difficult situation but now I am back at Hibs, feeling fresh and ready for [Morton]. It always is a great experience [to be part of the national squad], you improve and learn new things. You are around top players and top class coaches and you always come back feeling good and having got better and the incentive for me is Premiership teams get international breaks, so hopefully we can make sure we go up so that [missing out on club games] doesn’t happen again!”