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5 of 025 Paul Hartley 55 L SPL A

Glass has no wish to reflect on derby jibes

’Old head’ at Hibs just focused on securing a New Year win against Hearts as Levein’s outburst is pushed aside


STEPHEN GLASS today insisted the stinging criticism he received from former Hearts boss Craig Levein following the first Edinburgh derby of the season won’t play any part in Sunday’s sell-out clash between the Capital rivals.

Levein launched an astonishing attack on Hibs boss Tony Mowbray after Hearts won at Tynecastle back in October before singling out Glass and his team-mate Guillaume Beuzelin for special attention, claiming he couldn’t even tell if they had been playing that day.

A few days later Levein quit Gorgie for Leicester, a factor Glass believes may have been behind his outburst. Whatever the reason, Glass today insisted he "couldn’t care less" about what Levein had to say, adamant the only person he had to impress was his own boss Mowbray. And to that effect the midfield ace appears to have succeeded, starting all but one of Hibs’ matches this season, at 28 the "old head" amid the clutch of youngsters who have taken Scottish football by storm this season.

Glass said: "For people to go to the Press to say things like he [Levein] did is a bit out of order - it doesn’t usually happen. He possibly knew he was going and that there would be no comeback.

"But as far as I am concerned, he can say what he likes about me. I couldn’t care less. At Easter Road the only manager anyone wants to impress is Tony Mowbray."

While he’s happy to forget that particular episode, Glass believes Hibs go into Sunday’s match better-equipped than for their earlier trip across the city, an occasion on which the likes of Simon Brown, Beuzelin, David Murphy, Dean Shiels and 17-year-old Steven Fletcher all got their first taste of a derby, Edinburgh-style.

He said: "I think we have improved in all aspects this season, not just from the first Hearts match but from the opening day of the season. And the guys who played in their first derby at Tynecastle will have learned from that experience."

Sunday’s clash presents third-placed Hibs with the tantalising prospect of opening up a 12-point gap over Hearts and with the Easter Road outfit having won five out of their last six matches, Glass is well aware of the rising expectation among supporters of the Leith club. But while he knows victory will send them into raptures, Glass insisted he and his team-mates have to concentrate more on garnering another three points than who the opposition might be.

And, having watched the fans flock back to Easter Road thanks to the entertaining style of football demanded by Mowbray and delivered by his players, Glass was equally adamant the team have to continue playing well to entice them along in future weeks.

He said: "To me it’s a great opportunity for us to play well in our own packed stadium. It’s important for us to keep playing well to keep those people wanting to come back and watch us, regardless of who we might be playing.

"The lads are obviously well aware it’s Hearts this Sunday, it’s a massive thing for the fans and we want to repay them for coming along in such numbers every week. There were so many at Tannadice on Monday it seemed more like a home crowd, not just the numbers but the noise they made was incredible.

"We knew before the game there would be a big Hibs crowd but to come out and see green and white everywhere was superb.

"The 12-point thing is something which the fans can hopefully be bragging about on Monday morning but for us the vital thing is to concentrate on getting three more points.

"Hearts will be as aware as we are of the potential outcome and they’ll be determined to come here and show they are better than us. They are in a similar position to the one we found ourselves in a few weeks ago when Aberdeen came to Easter Road knowing a win would put them ten points ahead of us.

"I don’t know what they were thinking that day but we were well aware of what was at stake because we didn’t want to drop any further behind them."

Since then Hibs have, incredibly, overhauled Aberdeen to claim third place going into the new year, an indication, said Glass, of just how quickly things can change in the SPL.

He said: "We are in a position which many people possibly couldn’t have envisaged at the start of the season but while we are well pleased we also know how hard we have had to work to get here and how easily it can slip away and that’s what we have to guard against.

"We know that if we continue to work hard and play well then we can finish high up the table - if we don’t we’ll slip down. It’s in our hands.

"There are so many teams desperate for points for their own reasons, it’s so tight at the bottom of the table and there are a lot of teams who believe they can finish third. Things can change very quickly; if you lose a few in a row while others are winning four, five or six as Motherwell did recently to get back into things, then your league position can rapidly alter."

While Hearts boast one of the tightest defences in the top flight, Hibs have failed to score in only two matches so far this season, their four at Tannadice taking their haul in the league to a highly respectable 35 from 20 matches.

Derek Riordan and Garry O’Connor have claimed the bulk of those goals but Sam Morrow became Hibs’ 13th different scorer this season as he got off the mark against Dundee United, under-lining the goal threat within Mowbray’s side.

Glass said: "I was really pleased to see Sam get his goal. He’s been working hard and when he’s come on he’s done well. Alen Orman is another who has come into the side recently and done well. The more players we have who believe they should be playing every week the better.

"Garry O’Connor’s goal was his first for a wee while but the rest of us are well aware of what he’s been doing for the team regardless of whether or not he’s been scoring.

"Players will tell you they don’t mind who gets the goals so long as we win, but strikers are always desperate to score. Derek Riordan has obviously scored quite a few this season but he’s also been working harder then he has probably ever done and hopefully we are seeing the benefits of that."

Glass, too, is enjoying something of a renaissance having missed most of last season, his first at Easter Road, on the sidelines thanks to injury.

He said: "When you go to a new club you want to do well to show why you’ve been brought there so last season was a big disappointment for me. I’m maybe the old head in the side but I don’t mind that, not that I have any choice in the matter.

"But I think we are all pleased with the way things have been going, everyone is doing what the manager wants, we are all pulling in the same direction and by that I mean the entire squad and not just the 11 who play any particular week."

Sunday’s match is perhaps the most-anticipated derby in years, at least as far as Hibs fans are concerned, and Glass and his team-mates have sensed the excitement growing each day.

He said: "It’s an attractive match and the fact it has been sold our for a while only adds to the attraction. Hearts have a good defensive record, but they also have good strikers and midfield players who can chip in with goals. They’ve done well in recent seasons and will continue to be a dangerous side.

"It’s also John Robertson’s first derby as Hearts manager and they will be desperate to come here and put one over on us.

"Some people may be saying that they can see only one winner on Sunday but we are not going to be carried away by all the hype. You cannot approach any game thinking you are going to win it and we can’t start believing that just because we are third in the table we are great team.

"Of course we think we are capable of winning the game but what the fans will see is a Hibs team playing hard and working hard. We’ll try to do what we are good at and hopefully that will be good enough for us to win."

Taken from the Scotsman

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