Cup Derby Banter
Hibs meet Hearts tonight in another cup tie with the hosts dismissing comments from Hearts re pressure
James McPake is ignoring claims from Tynecastle that the pressure is on Hibs ahead of their League Cup derby meeting tonight. Hearts assistant manager Billy Brown claimed Hibs would have to cope with an added burden because they are the more experienced side who have spent money trying to improve their fortunes. However, McPake insisted that is was only excitement to cope with in Hibs squad rather than any tension about the prospect of losing to their administration-hit city rivals for a second time this season.The Hibs captain said: "There is the same pressure on both teams. If we win, we're in the semi-final of the cup. If Hearts win, they are in the semi-final of the cup. I honestly don't see any difference. Whether you have a team full of young kids or whether you have a team full of 35-year-olds, it doesn't make it any easier in my opinion. It's a game of football. In my opinion we've got the better squad, everybody would probably agree with that, but it doesn't guarantee you win the game. You saw that at Tynecastle at the start of the season. I can remember Billy saying that in the Press when he was at Hibs, that all the pressure was on Hearts. I can guarantee that's not going to affect us. Yes, there is pressure that comes from playing in every single game but you use these pressures to your advantage and enjoy playing in it. With the buzz going about our dressing room, if we were under that much pressure, I'm sure people wouldn't be looking forward to it as much as they are."However, McPake concedes his team want to make up for the 1-0 defeat at Tynecastle in the second game of the Scottish Premiership season. McPake, who missed that game with a back injury, said: "The fans are quite right to expect us to put it right. We want to put it right ourselves. It's personal pride, we want to be in another semi-final, we want to get one over our biggest rivals, we know how much it means to the fans and we are desperate to put a smile on their face and give them the bragging rights."Easter Road manager Pat Fenlon was even more dismissive of the opinion of his former assistant. He said: "I'm not too interested in what Billy has to say to be honest. I'm more worried about our own players. We have got to go and win the game because we want to win the game, not for any other reason. We want to get ourselves into the semi-final of a cup and try to get back to another final. That's what it's about for us: making sure that we give a performance that's worthy of the club but obviously get ourselves into a semi-final."McPake played his first 90 minutes of the league season as Hibs lost 2-0 to Aberdeen on Saturday after Michael Nelson underwent surgery to repair a broken eye socket. The English defender will also be out for the next two league games at least. Fenlon said: "The surgeon is quite happy. He is two weeks without doing anything at all. After that, hopefully he gets the go-ahead to do some light stuff and then it's just a case of waiting to see how it's healing and how quickly he can do some full training. You have seen players playing with masks but it has to settle down from the operation. It's one step at a time. It's hard to say whether he is going to be out for four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, less, I don't know. He still had a bit of time to play in the Celtic game but he didn't want to come off the park and he was putting his head to stuff as well and making sure we got something out the game. That's the kind of player he is. But we are fortunate James has come back to fitness."
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