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Hibs assistant boss Stockdale hails players’ attitude ahead of Hearts clash

Hibernian assistant coach Robbie Stockdale admits the attitude of the players has been a breath of fresh air since he and Paul Heckingbottom arrived.

Stockdale spent almost three years on the first-team coaching staff at Sunderland before last summer while Heckingbottom’s most recent managerial experience was a four-month spell at Leeds.

The former Scotland international was immediately impressed with how the Hibs players applied themselves after the managerial change, since when the Easter Road side are unbeaten in nine Ladbrokes Premiership games ahead of Sunday’s Edinburgh derby.

When asked how the management pairing is balanced, Stockdale said: “There’s not been much cause for having a bad cop at the moment, but we demand from the players. Every day we expect the best from them.

“We have both come from clubs where we probably didn’t have the amount of good professionals in terms of the effort and attitude. So it’s just a case of pushing them every day to get better.

“Before we came in we had a fair idea of what was in the building we had done our work on the squad and individual players. But it’s not until you are here that you see what the make-up and characters of the players are. It didn’t take us long to figure out we had some really good ones.

“The information we are giving them on a daily basis is really detailed and the players are picking it up. It’s great, they are like sponges, they are absorbing it. They are trying to do what we are asking them to do. Will they get it right all the time? No, but the one thing we will get annoyed is if they don’t try.”

When pressed on the attitude of the players, Stockdale added: “Since we have come in the players have been first class. We can’t praise them enough in terms of what we have asked them to do.

“It’s not always been easy, there has been plenty of hours on the training ground going over it again until they get it. We use analysis department quite a lot and players get feedback and we are quite happy for players to question what we are asking them to do as well. I think that makes a really healthy environment of learning and improving.”

Stockdale will experience his first Edinburgh derby at Easter Road, weeks after his team beat Hearts 2-1 at Tynecastle.

“The atmosphere was excellent,” the former Middlesbrough player said. “I have been involved in quite a few big derbies, the Sunderland-Newcastle one, and it was right up there.

“I think it’s different when you have two teams in the same city. For three or four weeks before the game, me and Paul were getting stopped everywhere and that was the only game on people’s lips: ‘Just beat then, just beat them’. It’s been the same this week and I’m sure it’s the same over the road.”