John Rankin believes Hibs can push for top six

HIBERNIAN still have a realistic hope of breaking into the top six, according to John Rankin, despite a poor run of form which currently has them just five points off the bottom of the SPL.

• Hibs midfielder John Rankin believes the club can cement a top-six place with a good run of results if the inclement weather finally comes to an end. Picture: SNS

The midfielder believes that, once the Easter Road side have a regular run of fixtures, they will have a greater chance of finding the consistency which has eluded them so far this season. The postponement of tonight's game against Hamilton Accies because New Douglas Park is frozen means they will have to wait a little longer before having the opportunity to bounce back from the weekend's 2-1 defeat by Kilmarnock, but Rankin hopes the three matches scheduled for next week will see his team rediscover their best form.

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"The last few weeks have been stop-start," he said, referring to a spell of bad weather which has forced the postponement of two of Hibs' matches in addition to the Hamilton game. "The weather has had a big impact on the games and we've not been able to get outside and train a lot.

"So it's been difficult conditions and the season has been stop-start, with the old manager going out and the new one coming in, and the weather recently. Once we get a run of fixtures I'm sure we can put a run together."

Colin Calderwood, who has been in charge of the club for eight games since replacing John Hughes as manager, has presided over just two victories in that time - against Rangers and Motherwell. With home games against Aberdeen and Dundee United coming up next week, Hibs need to add to that tally to ensure they are not dragged deeper into relegation trouble before they cross the city for the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle on New Year's Day.

"We're desperate to get going and obviously we want to make amends," Rankin continued. "It was a great feeling to get back on the pitch and see grass again (at Kilmarnock].

"We're desperate to get back playing. We want to put things right and start climbing up that table, and the only way to do so is by winning games.

"We're not sitting in a very comfortable position at the moment but, if we can put a run of results together, we're quite confident we can push into the top six. That is the aim at the moment and if we can put a run of results together and start winning games it will make a big difference, not only to the confidence but to the club itself."

Rankin takes solace from the fact that the squad is by and large composed of the same players who took the club to third for a time last season and held on to finish fourth. He conceded, however, that they were not at present in a false position.

"The table doesn't lie, does it? In some games we've felt hard done by and in other games we've probably got what we deserved.But, once we can put a string of results together, I'm fully confident we can climb up that table.

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"The majority of the players that are here are the players that were here last season when we did finish in fourth position, so I don't think that's the problem. I think it's just about getting a run of results. I don't think we have put a decent run together this calendar year. I don't think we've won a lot of games. So, if we can put a run of results together like we did to get us into fourth place and fifth place, then great.

"The consistency is the main thing that we've lacked. We all know that and we're desperate to put it right. But unfortunately we can't, for whatever reason, and we can't put our finger on it, we don't know. But we can still come up with the goods. We can still go to Ibrox and win 3-0 and look very convincing in the end. And then we had the home game against Motherwell and we did the business there."

While Hibs have had those isolated wins, Hearts racked up six victories on the trot before drawing with Inverness Caley Thistle at the weekend. That contrast may make their own team's form harder to take for Hibs supporters, but Rankin said the players would not dwell on their rivals' good form.

"I don't think it makes things any worse. Obviously they're doing well and they've put a good run of results together. We were in that position last year.

"We've just got to look at ourselves at the moment and push up the table.

"Obviously the derby is coming up, we're fully aware of that, but we've got to take care of ourselves and forget about what they're doing. I don't think there's any added pressure on us at the moment. We just need to go and take care of our own fixtures and once we do we can look at the derby."

Hamilton had hoped to repair a burst water pipe yesterday and switch their undersoil heating back on in time to unfreeze their pitch for this evening's match, but they had to concede defeat and called the game off in mid-afternoon. A new date for the fixture has yet to be announced.