PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM saw his Hibs team topple to a 2-0 loss to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park – and insisted the Edinburgh derby against Hearts on Sunday is the “PERFECT” game to kick-start his team’s revival.
The Leith boss has seen his side win only once in their last 10 league outings which also includes a 6-1 thrashing from Rangers at Ibrox.
Heckingbottom experienced two Edinburgh derbies last season, winning one and drawing the other, and realises his players have the ideal opportunity to relaunch their campaign against their struggling neighbours who lost 3-2 at home to Motherwell and are anchored at th foot of the top flight.
UP IN ARMS…Hibs’ Merker Halberg protests to the referee after a goal is chalked off.
He reckons it is now time for his under-performing players to step up and turn events around – starting in six days’ time.
The Englishman, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “This game takes care of itself. It’s still only three points and still only September, I’m bothered about where we are at the end of the season, the bigger picture.
“But it’s the perfect game for me. If I’m saying we need to be much stronger, mentally tougher, more aggressive, more disciplined, it’s the perfect game.
“An Edinburgh derby is perfect, we had two last season and I loved them, I’d have one every week.
“There is no hiding place for anyone, so, for me, I can’t wait.
“We’ve got the best game next and the team I pick will reflect that – stronger, more aggressive, that’s what we need to be.”
Hibs struggled in Ayrshire as Killie secured back-to-back wins for the first time under new manager Angelo Alessio.
They are now unbeaten in their last four games, winning three of them, and the Italian believes his players now have a better understanding of his methods.
Second-half goals from Liam Millar and Mohamed El Makrini secured a deserved three points for the home side.
THE OPENER…Liam Millar slides the ball past Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano.
Alessio added: “We are happy because we deserved the win. I saw my team play very well in the second-half.
“We both had opportunities in the first half, but I said to the players to keep going and be more aggressive in the second-half and try to counter-attack. I want to thank my staff because every week we work together for this.
“The players here and the new players, they have time now. The last day of the market, we took players and they have to get to understand our football style.
“I am happy because I saw a good attitude and ability and this is important to reach a good result.
“I think this team deserves it because we now have good compartments, a solid team and we work hard every week.
“I know only this way to reach good results.”