SOME may say the international break came at the wrong time for Hibernian as they were on a four-game winning streak but in all honesty we needed it, players were injured and tired and the 3G pitch at Kilmarnock didn't help.
We could see that in the second half of the Dundee game but we battled on to win. Batteries recharged and players coming back means we are ready for the St Johnstone match.
John McGinn may be getting all the headlines but we are far from a one-man team and I would maybe say that Marvin Bartley has been our best player but it is close. The best holding midfielders keep it simple, keep it solid and are strong on the tackle. That’s what Bartley does, he doesn't get the credit he deserves but I am sure if Neil Lennon was asked he would say that his team is built around Bartley.
In football they go on about the backbone of a team and ours looks first class – Marciano in goals, Hanlon and Ambrose at the back, Bartley as holding midfielder and Murray up front. Put Stokes just in behind the frontman and the pace of Barker and Boyle on the wings, McGinn and McGeouch as our central/attacking midfielders, Lewis Stevenson at left-back and either Whittaker or Gray on the other side and you can see why we are sitting third in the league.
And but for taking time to adjust to life in the top league we could and probably should be top. As it stands we are in third place just two points behind Aberdeen. I advised Hibernian at 20-1 without Celtic preseason, that now looks a steal the way we are playing, we still have a long season ahead but it's looking good, those odds are now 10-1 but that looks extremely high and still well worth backing,
After getting beat by Celtic in the semi-final I told Racing Club members I thought we would win our next seven league games, it's now four down and three to go before we go into the Celtic clash at Easter Road. We are scoring goals with McGinn on three, Stokes and Boyle on four each and Murray on five, even defenders are chipping in.
Defensively despite failing to keep a clean sheet in our first six Premiership games, Hibs now have the division’s fourth-best defensive record. Things seemed to click overnight, with the Leith outfit conceding just four goals in their past seven league games – with three of those coming against Aberdeen and Celtic.
Captain Paul Hanlon and Efe Ambrose have now built a good understanding at the centre of defence. In the club’s away fixture to Motherwell the Cabbage won 1-0, limiting hosts Motherwell to just four shots all game.
Having also recorded shut-outs against the likes of Hearts and Kilmarnock in recent weeks, their upcoming opponents are hardly likely to rack up the goals.
Hibs v St Johnstone (Saturday 3pm)
- Hibs over 1.5 goals
- (4-5, Betfair)