The Hibs View: Unbeaten Heckingbottom awaits first Edinburgh Derby
Hibernian enter Saturday’s Edinburgh Derby knowing that victory at Tynecastle will lift them above their great rivals in the league for the first time this season. Gregor Kerr looks at the game from a Hibernian perspective.
The Hibees are winless at Hearts since 2013, but under their new boss Paul Heckingbottom they are riding the crest of a wave, with five victories from seven league games and no defeats in the process. Considering the Leith side were languishing in eight place when the Yorkshireman arrived, they have done remarkably well to secure a place in the top six with a game remaining.
He does however accept that the derby is likely to be his most challenging game in the hot seat: “This will be our biggest test so far.”, he said after claiming the Labrokes manager of the month award for March.
“The challenge is still to get three points but it is a derby and there is a rivalry there and it is all about handling the intensity of the occasion. Tynecastle is a different stage and a different environment to play in. It will be good to see how my players respond to that.”
As for their team selection, no surprises have really been sprung into the team over the last few months, with a consistent selection process allowing the team to gain some familiarity and rhythm over that period. The old guard defence of David Gray, Paul Hanlon, Darren McGregor and Lewis Stevenson has been a welcome site for the Hibees, while Mark Milligan’s introduction back into the side has also helped to maintain some composure.
The danger man upfront will be Marc McNulty, who has struck seven times since arriving on loan on deadline day and looks likely to make his derby debut along with Stephane Omeonga; another impressive January loanee.
Heckingbottom is still a long way off full selection, with Ryan Gauld, Darnell Johnson, Steven Whittaker, and Thomas Agyepong still on the injury list. Martin Boyle may return towards the very end of the season, while Ryan Porteous won’t play again this campaign.
A victory for the away side would mark an incredibly return from 12 points below Hearts several months ago, while also leaving them with a fighting chance of European football.