sport

Fenlon defends Hibernian's form

Manager Pat Fenlon has dismissed suggestions his Hibernian side are inconsistent and is confident his side can win at Hearts on Thursday night.

Hibs responded from a four-match winless streak, including a dire performance in losing at home to Ross County, by beating Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic at Easter Road last Saturday.

Fenlon is looking forward to the chance for his players to show their quality at Tynecastle, at the home of their greatest rivals.

"We've been fantastic all season," he said.

"We didn't play to the level we felt we could against Ross County, but I don't think there's been loads of performances where we've been poor.

"It's going to be a tasty atmosphere and a decent game. I'm looking forward to it.

"Both the games we've played here have been fairly tight and close and some decent football.

"Hibs-Hearts is normally frantic and probably will be for a period. We feel we've got some players who can go in and play. That's what we've got to try to do.

"With the team we have we feel we can go there and cause them problems."

The third Edinburgh derby of the season comes amid suggestions of a change of fortunes of the capital clubs, with Hearts in deep financial turmoil and Hibs in the top half of the table after recent battles to avoid relegation.

Hibs are seeking another victory over their rivals after winning a first derby in 13 attempts in December's Scottish Cup fourth-round clash, little more than six months after losing the Hampden final 5-1 to the same opponents.

Hearts are six points behind Hibs, after playing one game less, and could cut the deficit to three points with victory.

With the winter break beginning after the Tynecastle tussle, Fenlon is eager to keep the momentum from the Celtic win going.

"It would be great to go there and get something out of the game," Fenlon added.

"On the back of beating Celtic, you want to be able to go and back that up.

"If we could go there and win it would be a fantastic result, but we're under no illusions, we know it's going to be difficult.

"We're looking forward to it. We feel we're a match for anybody in the league at the moment."

Fenlon has been reluctant to comment on Hearts' strife this season.

He added: "I don't get too much caught up in what goes on across the city. I can't control it.

"I'm more interested in what we can do here. As a club we've progressed.

"We've changed a lot of things round and we're moving the club forward. I think that's all we can worry about and focus on."

Fenlon does not anticipate Hibs being full of activity during the winter transfer window as he still hopes to extend stays for striker Leigh Griffiths, defender Ryan McGivern and midfielder Jorge Claros, whose loan deals are up this month.

Fenlon added: "It will depend where we get with the three players. If we keep the three of them, that will probably be it.

"We don't have loads of money, unless one or two players leave and we'll have to replace them.

"I'm more than happy with the squad we have. We've got a decent squad.

"Like most managers, you'd love to add one or two more, but you have to be realistic as well, know where we are as a club and work within that."

McGivern missed the win against Celtic with a hamstring problem, Lewis Stevenson taking his place at left-back.

Stevenson impressed, giving Fenlon food for thought after McGivern came through training today.

Fenlon added: "We didn't risk him against Celtic. Lewis came in and was fantastic.

"It's given me a headache, but it's a good one to have. He was excellent at the weekend."