Rankin wants 'hunger to defend' to be priority for Hibs

John RANKIN today insisted Hibs' determination to prevent the opposition scoring must be greater than their own desire to score goals themselves.

The midfield star agrees the Easter Road outfit concede too many soft goals, a major factor in their dramatic fall from grace as they've gone from challenging at the top to relegation candidates in a year.

Rankin admitted he was at a loss to explain Hibs' downfall. But, he declared as he prepared to head for Ibrox and the prospect of a showdown with Rangers, he and his team-mates must learn to "win ugly".

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He said: "Perhaps we think about how many we can score rather than the opposition not scoring. We need to start winning ugly, to roll the sleeves up, to dig deep and say, 'we won't be beaten today, they are not going to score'.

"That's the attitude we need to take. We went to Aberdeen, scored two away from home which means you should win but we lost four goals. We were going in at half-time there wondering why we were two down having had five or six chances but then you see the video and their first goal, they have four or five sprinting forward, we have four of five jogging back.

"That's the difference, the hunger to defend rather than the hunger to score."

Rankin insisted he wasn't talking out of turn, having expressed his opinions during team meetings following each of Hibs' last three matches.

Admitting he'd felt "gutted" by the derby day defeat by Hearts, Rankin claimed a video analysis session and discussion the morning after had provided "closure" on the 2-0 defeat.

He said: "There was quite a bit of constructive criticism and arguing but that's not a bad thing. We knew we had let ourselves down."