BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs admits the Leith outfit’s Championship title aspirations will look a lot clearer after their next three games.
A crucial run of fixtures pits Hibs against their fellow top four league rivals, starting tonight in the rearranged trip to Falkirk when they will attempt to reduce the gap on leaders Rangers to eight points.
Raith Rovers play host to the Easter Road side on Saturday before the eagerly-awaited televised visit of Rangers on November 1.
Although Stubbs admits the success of their season will not be decided in the next fortnight, the former Celtic defender concedes that they are facing a critical run of games.
Stubbs, whose side have won seven out of their last eight matches in all competition, said: “The next three games will give us a better indication.
“I don’t think it will define how the season is going to go but it will give us an indication of how potentially it’s going to unfold, that would probably be the best way to describe.
“People say we have a challenging run of fixtures coming up, I think it’s a really exciting one.
“It tells us where we are. We’ve got Falkirk, Raith Rovers then Rangers and Dundee United in the League Cup. For me, that’s great.
“We’re winning games of football. We’ve been very good since our first two games and that’s what we need to keep doing.
“In order for us to do what we want to do this season, we have to get results against teams like Falkirk, Raith, Rangers and Dundee United.”
Stubbs admits that competition for places is so fierce in the Hibs squad that the players can effectively manage themselves.
He added: “The squad is the strongest it has been since I’ve come here. I’ve really got to start thinking about the teams I’m putting out.
“There are great choices for me. If a player has maybe taken his foot off the pedal, I know I’ve got someone who is really chomping at the bit to get in.
“They’re driving each other on at this moment in time. I’m doing little bits of it, but they’re doing the most of it.
“When you’ve got good players, they more often than not manage the dressing room. Sometimes you have to just step in when the timing’s right and remind them who’s boss basically.”
Stubbs, meanwhile, admits he was gutted to hear on Saturday that legendary former Everton manager Howard Kendall had passed away at the age of 69.
Although Stubbs did not play under Kendall, who won two league titles with the Toffees, he knew him well.
Stubbs said: “It was a really sad day for me on Saturday. I had an armband on on the touchline.
“He was a brilliant guy, he really was. For me, Liverpool had Bill Shankly. We had Howard Kendall at Everton.
“I knew him personally and we had quite a lot of chats, we spoke about the way he managed.
“When I go to the funeral, I wouldn’t be surprised if I shed a tear.”