sport

Hibs learning from defeats

Lewis Stevenson believes a heightened sense of pain after defeat has helped Hibernian improve this season.

Hibs have only suffered consecutive defeats on two occasions this season, both times limited to two matches.

Their most recent loss, a 3-1 home defeat by St Johnstone that sparked an angry response from manager Pat Fenlon, was followed by frank talks. And Hibs would have made it two away wins in a row in their subsequent games had it not been for Johnny Russell's late controversial penalty at Tannadice on Sunday.

Fenlon has added a steel on the park and Stevenson hinted an ever-present determination to avoid defeat has also played a part in turning Hibs from Clydesdale Bank Premier League relegation candidates to European hopefuls.

Stevenson, who is set to start against Kilmarnock at Easter Road tomorrow night, said: "We got off to a flyer at the start of the season and had a dip in form.

"In previous seasons the dips in form have maybe been about 15-20 games whereas this season it is maybe five games, which is not great but it's a lot better than it has been.

"This year when we have been beaten, it shows a lot in the changing room and in training the next week how much it is hurting. Maybe in previous years it has not been like that.

"Especially after the St Johnstone game at home, we know we didn't play well. It was probably the poorest performance of the season.

"We had a chat the next day in training and got a lot of things out in the open. From there we have kicked on.

"It's a lot easier place to be when you are winning games and playing well."

The 25-year-old has been playing at right-back in recent games, with Tim Clancy still missing with a hamstring problem.

"I have been enjoying it," he said. "It helps when the team is winning and playing well. The St Mirren and Dundee United games are probably the best we have been playing for a while so that always helps."

Those games have seen him face in-form pair Esmael Goncalves and United's Gary Mackay-Steven and he faces another threat tomorrow night in James Dayton.

"I seem to pick them when they are in form, but every game is going to be tough," he said. "These are top teams but it helps when your team-mates are helping you out."

Stevenson has made 22 appearances this season despite not being as instrumental as he was when he won a string of club player of the year awards last term.

And the midfield player is looking to continue his one-club career next season.

"My contract is up in the summer," he said. "In the last few seasons I have found myself in the same situation.

"I know I have to work hard and perform well on match days and hopefully I will get a new contract.

"I would love to stay here but it's the club's decision.

"It's that busy, the club have got bigger things to sort out with trying to get in the top six. I am happy to wait and see what happens."