Ian Murray admits Hibernian are far from the finished article at present but he is confident they can hold their own in the upcoming Edinburgh derby double-header against in-form city rivals Hearts.
The sixth-place Easter Road side head to Tynecastle this Saturday knowing they will probably require a win over their third-place hosts to stay in the top six after the cinch Premiership split. And the following weekend the two teams meet again in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.
Hearts are favourites for both matches, but former Hibs captain Murray believes his old club are strong enough defensively to stand a chance of giving their rivals at least one bloody nose over the next fortnight.
“I don’t think this week’s game will have too much bearing on what happens the following week,” Murray told the PA news agency.
“Both teams will want to go into the second game with confidence, but playing each other at Hampden is completely different to a league derby at Tynecastle. I think this weekend is probably slightly more important for Hibs than Hearts in terms of performance and result.
“It will be a tough ask because Hearts have been really good at home and they’re in slightly better form than Hibs but I’ve seen it plenty times in a derby, when form goes out of the window.
“Hibs look really solid at the back. They’re just lacking that killer touch that allows them to score goals. But sometimes in big games you just need someone to produce that little bit of magic that can swing the game in your favour.”
While Hearts are progressing well under Robbie Neilson, Hibernian appear to be in transitional phase since manager Shaun Maloney replaced Jack Ross in December. Despite this, Murray refutes any suggestion that the upcoming semi-final has come too early in Maloney’s rebuild.
“The draw for both teams was the best they could have got because they avoided the Old Firm,” said Murray. “They will both fancy their chances.
“I wouldn’t say it’s come too early for Shaun and Hibs. I don’t think there’s a bad time to play a semi-final, certainly not against your local rivals.
“It could actually turn out to be a good time for Shaun. Robbie’s record against Hibs isn’t too good, so there’s a wee bit of pressure on him because of that.”
Murray admits Hibs’ season has been poor so far but he is confident Maloney will soon get them moving in the right direction once he finds a way to get them scoring more goals.
“The league form is not ideal, with one win in 12 and not a lot of goals being scored, but there don’t tend to be too many goals in Edinburgh derbies generally,” said Murray.
“Shaun will want to bring in a few of his own players over the next couple of windows and I think you’ll see a big change once that happens.
“To be honest, I think Hibs as a club will be glad to see the back of this season, unless they go on to win the Scottish Cup.
“I think Shaun will be really looking forward to the summer to gather his thoughts, recruit a couple of players and then get properly stuck into it in pre-season.”
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