JOHN COLLINS admits he is expecting a ‘big reaction’ from Hibs following Craig Levein’s ‘strange’ taunts over the natural order of the Edinburgh derby.
Levein angered counterpart Neil Lennon with his quip after Hearts had defeated their rivals for the first time in 10 attempts in January’s Scottish Cup victory at Tynecastle.
The Jambos head coach has pointed to Hearts’ superior win rate through the history of the fixture, an upper hand he has enjoyed as both player and manager, to support his comments.
However, Collins, who began his career at Hibs and later managed the club to their 2007 CIS Cup success, reckons the jibes will only act to spur his old club on.
He said: “I think it will get a big reaction. It upset a lot of Hibs supporters and it upset Neil Lennon after the match.
“It was a very strange thing for Craig to say, normally he’s quite a smart guy and keeps nice and calm.
“But obviously he was very excited after the victory, and it was a big victory for him at the time because he was under a little bit of pressure to get results and Hearts hadn’t beaten Hibs for a long time.
“He shouldn’t have said it but I’m sure it’s going to be a motivating factor for the Hibs players, no doubt about it.”
Collins is full of praise for the job Lennon has done at Hibs and has been impressed with the team in recent weeks.
And he firmly believes the Easter Road outfit should emerge victorious from the latest meeting of the sides.
He added to Sky Sports: “I have to say, the last Edinburgh derby was a poor spectacle for Scottish football; it was an ugly match, and unfortunately Hibs lost that match.
“So, they’ll be looking to put it right at home.
“Hibs are the favourites. It’s a big pitch at Easter Road and it should suit the style of football they play.
“Hearts will try to upset them and it’s usually a tight, closely-fought encounter.
“But if I was a betting man, my money would be on Hibs to win.”