BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hibs captain David Gray insists anyone claiming the Championship title race will be over if Rangers triumph at Easter Road on Sunday is being ‘disrespectful’ to the entire division.
The Gers could open a yawning 11 point lead at the summit of the league if they emerge victorious from their trip to the capital, prompting several high-profile figures to suggest that would be Hibs’ hopes of automatic promotion over.
Kris Boyd, Colin Stein and John O’Neil have all told Alan Stubbs’ side that they cannot afford to lose this weekend’s mouth-watering clash.
However, Gray believes there are destined to be twists and turns in the title race, regardless of the result this weekend, and he will not give up the chase even if Rangers streak further into the distance.
Asked whether their challenge would be over if they lose, Gray scoffed: “In November? I certainly don’t think it’s the case that if we don’t win then the title race is over.
“That’s disrespectful to the rest of the teams in the league. It’s a very difficult league and we have dropped points in matches we have been expecting to win this season.
“Every game is difficult so to say that the league would be finished is a bit silly and disrespectful to the rest of the teams in the league.
“We did not start as well as we would have liked this season but we are slowly getting going. We are on a good run now and we want to keep that going this weekend.
“It’s in our hands to cut the gap if we get the win. It’s two sides on a good run right now but hopefully it’s us who keeps that good run going.”
Rangers have already registered two wins over the Hibees this term, winning 6-2 in the Petrofac Training Cup in July before claiming a narrow 1-0 triumph at Ibrox the following month.
However, there will be no sense of inferiority coming from Hibs’ skipper, with the capital club currently on a run of nine wins from their last 10 matches.
He continued: “I felt we played really well at Ibrox earlier in the season and if we had taken our chances it could have been a different story. It took a great free kick from the lad (Tavernier) to separate the teams.
“Sometimes you get the luck and sometimes you don’t. But I’m sure there are times this season we have played worse and got all three points.
“The way Rangers are going at the moment, they are flying. But we have to concentrate on ourselves and try and stop them on Sunday.”
Gray only arrived at Easter Road last summer but, remarkably, this will be the tenth time he has gone head-to-head with Rangers.
Unsurprisingly, it is a clash he enjoys, giving he has scored two of his three career goals to date against the Glasgow giants.
He smiled: “I’ve scored against Rangers but not against many other teams. My goal at Ibrox last season was my first competitive goal and I’d happily take another on Sunday!
“This is the tenth time I have played Rangers since I’ve come up here – it’s incredible isn’t it? – but I love these games. They are so enjoyable, at Ibrox or at Easter Road.”
And he reckons the fans will be in for a cracker: “Rangers will sell out behind the goal and with the TV cameras in attendance it should be a terrific occasion. Hopefully we can start well on Sunday and take it from there.
“I can’t imagine Rangers will be defensive, they have a style they like to stick to, playing 4-3-3. Hopefully the game will open up and it will be a great match for the neutral.”