Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs admits league remains priority despite emotional ties to Scottish Cup

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Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs admits the Scottish Cup would be the most important competition if he allowed his heart to overrule his head.
But the former Celtic and Everton defender insists returning to the Premiership via the play-offs is always going to be club’s priority.
The Leith outfit face a season-defining week in their quest to earn promotion and triumph in the cup for the first time since 1902.
Alan Stubbs presserAfter facing Falkirk in Tuesday’s crunch battle for second in the Championship, Hibs lock horns with Premiership basement side Dundee United at Hampden next Saturday for a place in the Scottish Cup final.
But despite the cup being regarded as the Holy Grail by the club’s supporters, Stubbs, who would love to saviour victory on both fronts, does not share that view.
Stubbs, whose side are six points behind second place Falkirk following Saturday’s defeat at Alloa, said: “The cup competition is obviously very important but the league is our main priority.
“There are two different ways to look at it.
“One is emotional and the other one is professional and I think the professional mindset would be the league and the emotional one would be the Scottish Cup.
“That’s probably the best way to describe it.”
Asked if securing the cup and not being promoted would be regarded as success, Stubbs, whose side were beaten in last month’s League Cup final by Ross County, added: “There would be success in there but it wouldn’t be the main success that we had wanted.
“But to win a Scottish Cup, you couldn’t not consider that success. But the number one aim is the league and the priority is getting promotion.
“But any season you enter, if you are in with the chance of getting to two major finals and you are still in with a chance of promotion, like we are now, then it means you are doing something right.
“This is the crucial bit we are entering, the bit where we have done all the ground work and now we are looking for the rewards at the very end.”
Stubbs, meanwhile, has praised Paul Hanlon for becoming a better all-round centre half.
The 26-year-old, who is out of contract this summer, has only recently returned to the side after being sidelined for six weeks with a thigh problem.
Stubbs said: “Paul reads the game well and he understands as a defender that it is no fluke or coincidence that good defenders find themselves in the right place at the right time.
“He has certainly become more of a dominant presence at centre-back, which I wanted him to be, because the other side of the game, reading it, passing, that understanding side is good anyway.
“I wanted him to be more of a presence and he has worked a lot in the gym and I think he is a much stronger player now than the one I inherited.
“Will he be here next season? We have had discussions and they are still ongoing but we are at the stage of the season where the most important thing is us concentrating on what is ahead.”

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