DARREN McGregor believes city rivals Hearts can help bring the best out of Hibs as they seek the perfect Christmas present this weekend.
Raith Rovers are the visitors on Saturday, with Stark’s Park manager Gary Locke, Scottish Cup legend Rudi Skacel and full-backs Jason Thomson and Kevin McHattie all enjoying a firm connection with the Jambos.
McGregor knows that will add a bit of extra spice to the Christmas Eve clash.
But the former Rangers and St Mirren defender is hopeful it will also help Hibs wrap up the three points they desperately need in their battle with Dundee United at the top of the Championship.
He said: “Raith is going to be a tough ask, with Gary Locke, an ex-Jambo, coming. He’ll want to win at Easter Road.
“There’s a few Jambos there who’ll want to celebrate their Christmas in style by beating us.
“They’re coming off the back of a good draw with United last weekend as well.
“They’ve got a good experienced manager and experienced players who will enjoy coming here, so it’s up to us to make it uncomfortable for them and try to get the victory.
“There will be a wee bit of extra needle – Gary Locke will want to come to Easter Road and win, of course he will.
“He’s played with Hearts, he’s got a connection with Hearts and everybody who has played for Hearts in the past brings a bit of needle.
“But that adds to the enjoyment of the game, knowing everyone is chomping at the bit ready to go. I like those kind of games, they suit me.”
UP OUR GAME
Hibs have won five of their last eight outings and only lost once – the 1-0 defeat to United that allowed their title rivals to draw level on points at the top of the table.
But McGregor is honest enough to confess that performances in the win over Dumbarton and Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Morton have been sub-standard and must get better.
He added: “Sometimes you don’t want to make too much of an issue out of things.
“In a couple of games we’ve been poor and we are professionals and we’re all well aware we need to up our game.
“It’s up to us to address it, individually and collectively as a team, and I believe we’ll do that.
“This is our time to show our mettle and give us all a good Christmas. A win would be a great Christmas gift to us all.”
• McGregor was speaking to help publicise an event being held in partnership between Tesco and the Hibs Community Foundation which will see up to 250 homeless, elderly and lonely locals served lunch at Easter Road on Christmas Day.
McGregor, who plans to attend with his own family, commented: “For myself, as a father, a son and a brother, to know someone close to me might be lonely and hungry at Christmas would be devastating.
“In this world we look after our own and sometimes forget people that are less fortunate than ourselves. To help them out is great.
“It speaks highly of Hibs as a club that they are helping out the community the way they are.”