DARREN McGREGOR insists Hibernian now have Aberdeen and Rangers firmly in their sights in the Premiership table after Friday night’s morale-boosting Edinburgh derby victory.
The Easter Road side surged 12 points clear of bitter city rivals Hearts and cemented themselves in fourth spot with their 2-0 win over the Jambos.
Neil Lennon’s men now find themselves just two points adrift of Aberdeen in third and, with a game in hand, are only seven points below Rangers in second.
The capital outfit have defeated both teams in recent weeks, in a run that has seen them lose only to Celtic in their last 10 league outings.
And McGregor believes confidence is high in the Hibs squad that they can launch a late bid to break into the top three in the remaining nine games of the campaign.
He said: “I think we can finish higher than fourth.
“If you had asked many fans at the start of the season if they would take being 12 points clear of Hearts in the latter stages of the season and two points behind Aberdeen, I think everybody would have snapped your hand off.
“But we have got aspirations to finish higher.
“We know that Aberdeen are a really good team and Rangers are a really good team, but we’ve proven we can beat them.
“So, why should we set the bar at fourth if we can go third or second?
“I can’t remember the last time Hibs finished second, so what a great achievement that would be.
“But, at the same time, we don’t want to get above our station. We know they are difficult games; St Johnstone will be a hard game [on Friday] and the ones that follow that will really test us.”
Hibs saw midfielder pair John McGinn and Dylan McGeouch earn Scotland call-ups on Monday, whilst Scott Allan, who grabbed the opening goal against Hearts, has earned praise since returning to the club on loan from Celtic.
However, McGregor insists the January arrivals of strike pair Florian Kamberi and Jamie Maclaren have played a huge part in Hibs’ recent form.
Kamberi, a Switzerland under-21 cap, is on loan from Grasshoppers and Maclaren, who netted the crucial second against Hearts, arrived on loan from Darmstadt 98 in a bid to secure a place in Australia’s squad for this summer’s World Cup finals in Russia.
McGregor added to Hibs TV: “The two guys up front have added tremendously to the squad. Sometimes you can get signings in January who are bit hit or miss.
“But, although Flo never got the goal he deserved on Friday, I though his work-rate and his appetite to hold the ball in and bring others into play was superb.
“Sometimes, as a fan, that can get missed but for me, as a defender, I know how hard it is to play against someone of his stature, who is constantly wanting to hold the ball and protect it to allow others to play.
“I think those two acquisitions have helped us massively.
“To get two strikers in that match so quickly is great for the team dynamic and they’re a big reason why we’re doing well at the moment.”