No lack of respect for Hearts, insists Hibs boss Alan Stubbs

By Jim SpenceBBC Sport
Hibs and Hearts do battle at Tynecastle
Hibernian's Danny Handling (left) battles with Sam Nicholson at Tynecastle earlier this season
Scottish Championship: Hibernian v Hearts
Date: Sunday, 12 April Venue: Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh Kick-off: 14:15 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs insists there is no lack of respect in his team not giving Championship winners Hearts a guard of honour in Sunday's derby.

Rangers applauded Robbie Neilson' side on to the field at Ibrox last weekend, but Hibs will not be doing the same.

"Me and Robbie have got a lot of respect for each other," said Stubbs.

"I rang Robbie the day after Hearts had won the league and congratulated him and said that the best team have won the league."

And Stubbs added: "Straight away there's a respect there. My players have come out in the press and congratulated Hearts on a deserved victory in the league.

"What's happened is because we've decided against giving Hearts a guard of honour, we've done it for safety reasons.

"We want the game to pass by in a good manner where both sets of fans are right behind the team and we don't want that animosity to creep on to the pitch and for people to get hurt amongst that.

Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs
Stubbs' side are second in the Scottish Championship

"When you think about those reasons I think it's the right reason. It's not about the respect that people are trying to get at and saying its a lack of respect, it's far from it."

Hibs go into Sunday's derby having failed to get the better of their capital rivals in the three league fixtures so far this season, and were denied a win by a late strike by Alim Ozturk in the last Easter Road clash between the two.

Stubbs feels, despite the 26-point gap between the two clubs in the Championship table, there is not much between the two teams.

"I don't think there's an awful lot in it," said the former Celtic defender. "The league will not say that because they've won it by such a wide margin.

"Over 90 minutes we've been close, but not close enough because the results say we've drawn two and lost one.

"The second game at Tynecastle where we got a draw, the team performed well. I thought at Easter Road we were very good and it took an unbelievable strike to stop us getting three points.

"One thing they've been all season is focused. Week in week out they've kept producing results.

"I spoke to Robbie yesterday and he'll be hurting from the result to Rangers [Hearts' 2-1 defeat] and he'll be wanting to put it right against us on Sunday."