BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
RAITH Rovers manager Ray McKinnon has hit back at Jason Cummings and branded the Hibs striker ‘irrelevant’ to his players in the build-up to tomorrow’s play-off quarter-final between the sides.
Cummings claimed in the wake of Hibs failing to finish second in the Championship that the Easter Road men would still be regarded as favourites for promotion.
He even went as far as to claim opponents would be ‘scared’ to come up against the capital outfit.
The comments are sure to be pinned to the Stark’s Park dressing-room wall as Rovers seek to prove the 20-year-old wrong by upsetting the odds and progressing to a semi-final clash with Falkirk.
And McKinnon insists Hibs’ favourites tag will bring its own problems for Alan Stubbs’ side as they try to cope with rising expectations.
He said: “Hibs are a big club, let’s not beat about the bush. They’re a big, big club, they’re a ‘Premiership club’, with great infrastructure, a great squad, great manager, big fan-base – and they really should be in the top flight.
“For me, that’s a pressure going into the play-offs, let’s make no bones about it. That is a pressure. Whether it affects them or not, only time will tell.
“Jason has come out and made comments – and he’s within his rights to feel that way. He can see it that way, it doesn’t mean we see it that way.
“We’ll do our talking on the park, that’s where it needs to be done.
“I’m pretty sure my players have probably looked at that but it doesn’t affect us.
“We’ve got good characters in that dressing-room, strong players. They’ll be motivated to win the game for themselves and not because of what Jason Cummings says. He’s irrelevant to us.”
One look at the form guide is enough to show that Cummings may be badly misguided.
Since some astute business in the loan market added Ryan Hardie from Rangers, Louis Longridge from Hamilton Accies and Harry Panayiotou from Leicester City to Raith’s squad and Aidan Connolly was recruited following his departure from Dundee United, Rovers have amassed more points than anyone in the Championship.
Currently on an incredible sequence in which they have been defeated just once – against Rangers at Ibrox – in their last 15 matches and not at all in their last 11 outings, the Kirkcaldy outfit could lay claim to, in fact, being the ones who should be regarded as favourites.
McKinnon added: “We’re undefeated in this quarter and we’ve had a really tough run-in – six away games and just three at home, and the three at home were Rangers, Falkirk and Hibs. But we were undefeated there.
“The six away games, apart from one at Alloa, were all against teams round about us in the league. And we won five and drew one.
“So, it’s been a great end to the season, the boys have been flying – and, you know, we go into this fairly confident that we can go on.”