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Darren McGregor hopes Hibernian can rediscover form after clear-the-air talks

Hibernian v Rangers – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Easter Road
(Image credit: Ian Rutherford)

Darren McGregor hopes clear-the air talks can help Hibernian hold off Livingston’s surprise charge for the top four.

Jack Ross’ team had ambitions of duking it out with Aberdeen for third place this season, but they now face a scrap to keep hold of fourth having picked up just one win in their last seven games.

And with David Martindale masterminding Livi’s 11-game hot streak, centre-back McGregor confessed there could yet be further pain in store for Hibs if they cannot shake themselves out of their rut.

Losing to St Johnstone in last weekend’s Betfred Cup semi-final was the low point of that miserable streak.

However, McGregor reckons there were signs of an upturn during Wednesday’s defeat to Rangers after the Hibs squad held a changing-room summit to work out what went wrong at Hampden.

The 35-year-old said: “We spoke about that at the start of the week and our reaction sometimes – whether that be to conceding or in the face of adversity – isn’t what we would want.

“We had an open-air conversation about it and everyone said their piece, and I thought you saw a reaction from that against Rangers.

“Myself and probably the fans that watch it won’t mind getting beat as long as you give your all, and I think you saw that on Wednesday night.

“We have come away from the game with no points but I felt we were in a much better place than at the start of the week.”

Hibs have been a team under fire since their 3-0 Hampden flop against Saints, with Ross leading the criticism of their sub-standard display.

The manager repeated those stinging words during this week’s post-mortem and McGregor insists the message was heard loud and clear.

“The manager said he wasn’t happy and he has made a point of saying it in the press sometimes as well,” said McGregor.

“He will come in on a Monday and he might change his words that he said at half-time or full-time, but I think he wanted to double down on that this time.

“He said that it wasn’t good enough and in stages it was way, way below the bar that he sets.

“I think having that conversation and the performance on Wednesday night shows that everyone has taken heed of that.”

Hibs will have to get in gear quick, however, with Livingston now blocking out the rear-view mirror.

The Lions sit five points back with a game in hand and McGregor said: “We are definitely conscientious of the teams around about us but I think we have got a good squad. We need to show that resilience more often than not.

“If we play like we did against Rangers most weeks we will be fine.”

Wednesday’s clash was overshadowed by Alfredo Morelos’ first-half clash with Ryan Porteous.

The Rangers striker could yet find himself in bother with the compliance officer despite referee Kevin Clancy missing an apparent stamp on his Hibs rival’s knee.

But McGregor felt he was harshly done by after the official did hand him a yellow for trampling on Gers midfielder Glen Kamara.

The defender said: “I don’t think there was much malice in (the Morelos incident) in terms of going out to hurt Porteous. But I think he could have put his foot in a different place, so make of that what you will.

“As for my booking, I thought for my first foul it was a bit harsh. But then some of the guys said they thought I was in WWE for a minute so maybe that is why I got booked!”