BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HIBERNIAN assistant manager Garry Parker is adamant no-one can stop the capital club from romping to the Championship title if they repeat the level of performance that saw them dismantle Dundee United.
The Easter Road outfit turned in a virtuoso display against United in Leith last Friday, with a Jason Cummings double and a sensational solo effort by John McGinn on his return from injury securing a 3-0 triumph.
The victory saw the Hibees open up a four-point lead over Ray McKinnon’s men – a remarkable turnaround given, just a month ago, United registered a 1-0 win over Hibs at Tannadice to seemingly claim the momentum in the race for promotion.
Parker recalls how that result in Tayside “hurt” his players, however, with a banana-skin trip to Dumbarton on the horizon this weekend, he now reckons the biggest danger to their title bid is THEMSELVES.
“We won at Dumbarton earlier in the season with a Jason Cummings penalty, and we are aware that it is a tough, tight venue and teams generally find it hard going there,” said Parker.
“But we are full of confidence and it is all about us – it is only us who can stop ourselves.
“If we are on form then we can beat anybody.
“The result last week lifts the confidence. Remembering when we went to Tannadice on that Friday night and lost 1-0, not playing very well, we saw them celebrating – rightly so, they won the game – and that hurt us a bit.
“But we have responded. They were top at Christmas, but we took that top-spot back and now there is a little bit of a gap there, albeit there is a long way to go.”
Parker was also full of praise for Scotland star McGinn, who climbed from the bench against United to score a dazzling third goal, dancing into the box before sliding the ball under the body of Cammy Bell from a prohibitive angle.
After six weeks on the sidelines following knee surgery, Lennon’s right-hand man reckons the wild celebrations that followed the goal illustrated just what McGinn’s return means to the squad as a whole.
“It was fantastic for John to come on and get the third goal,” Parker continued, with McGinn in contention for a place in the starting line-up this weekend. “He has been out for so long and got a great reception from the fans.
“He only had 20 minutes training last week but he told us he was alright and he came on and proved that, taking his goal really well.
“John loves that body contact, he gets close to people and rolls them and from a really tight angle it is a brilliant angle. You could see from his celebration, and all the lads coming over to pile on him, that we are glad to have him back.”
While the spectacular return of McGinn proved the icing on the cake last Friday, Hibs are set to be boosted by the return of another key midfield presence at The Rock on Saturday.
Fraser Fyvie, who has been absent since a 4-0 win over Queen of the South on November 19 due to a persistent groin complaint, is expected to be back in contention, much to the delight of Parker.
“We got John [McGinn] back and Fraser Fyvie should be back for the Dumbarton game so the group is getting fit again, it is a great choice to have,” he told Hibs TV. “We have missed them, so to still be top if the league after a period without them shows our strength in depth is quite good.”