BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Peter Houston reckons his failure to snap up midfield pair Sam Stanton and Andy Murdoch proves that Hibernian and Rangers view his Falkirk side as genuine title challengers.
Houston has confessed to trying to land Stanton on loan from Hibs and Murdoch on a similar deal from Rangers, but instead the duo ended up being farmed out to Livingston and Queen of the South, respectively.
It was a disappointment for Houston, who nonetheless boosted his midfield options this week with the return from Norwich City of Conor McGrandles on loan.
And the Bairns boss reckons the fact league leaders Rangers and tomorrow’s opponents Hibs decided against dealing with Falkirk is a tribute to the way his team have made the title chase a three-horse race.
He said: “They see us as a threat and a rival. Andy Murdoch’s gone to Queen of the South and Sammy Stanton’s gone to Livingston. I wouldn’t deny that we were interested in the two of them.
“I said before Christmas that I wanted to strengthen the squad and they are two talented players. They could have enhanced the depth in our squad.
“So it’s a back-handed compliment if rival teams like Hibs and Falkirk think about us that much.
“We have, in the last 17 or 18 months, made progress. We’ve fitted players into a jigsaw. We are a decent side.”
Houston, meanwhile, is hopeful Falkirk will take inspiration from their shock win over Rangers last month as they bid to put three points of daylight between themselves and Hibs.
The Bairns host the Easter Road outfit seeking to improve on their controversial defeat back in October and the 1-1 draw between the teams five weeks ago.
And Houston reckons their 2-1 success against Rangers proves they can handle the big occasions.
He added: “We stood up to the challenge. We were under severe pressure and that tells me a lot about the boys. We have to handle those high-pressure situations.
“We had a goalkeeper who is bang on form. We had defenders who cleared their lines.
“What pleased me was that young Kevin O’Hara could have had a hat-trick. We created chances against a good Rangers side.
“We believe in ourselves more and that comes from winning matches.”