John McGinn baffled by Hibernian's Championship slump

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
John McGinn
John McGinn has the chance to impress Scotland manager Gordon Strachan in the friendly against Denmark at Hampden next Tuesday

John McGinn admits Hibernian's players are "baffled" by the team's recent slump in form in the Championship.

The Easter Road side have lost their last four league games and seen Falkirk open a six-point gap in second place.

Boss Alan Stubbs has given his players some rest during the international break to renew their energy and focus.

"The boys are getting time off. The manager said, 'you'd better come back refreshed', and it was an order rather than anything else," said McGinn.

The midfielder joins up with the Scotland squad on Friday ahead of the second of their two friendlies against Denmark on Tuesday, and welcomes the change in scene.

He told BBC Scotland: "It's good to get away. We've played a lot of games, and that isn't a complaint or an excuse, it's just that sometimes it's good to get away from it to recharge the batteries and that's what we'll be doing.

"A big reason for being up near the top of the table was keeping clean sheets and being very astute defensively. Now we're conceding poor goals and not scoring goals at the other end.

John McGinn plays for Scotland Under-21s against France
Scotland Under-21 captain McGinn is in line to win his first full cap

"It's a very confusing time for us, but we're determined to work as hard as we can. We're just not getting the breaks or producing the quality we did in the first half of the season and it's something we're trying to eradicate, and hopefully we will before the end of the season."

Hibs have two games in hand on Falkirk, who lie in the promotion play-off spot, with Rangers a further 11 points clear at the top. But Falkirk could extend their advantage to nine points by beating Livingston on Saturday.

"It's close and that's fair play to Falkirk, and something we're disappointed by," McGinn noted. "We're determined to get that second place and make sure we've got the best chance of going up.

"I'm not playing as well as I was just before Christmas. As a team, we're all not playing as we can and that's evident in the results that are coming for us. We're working hard to try to nail down what the problem is and I'm sure we'll get back to winning ways sometime soon."

'Being captain of the 21s added a bit of maturity'

McGinn feels he has developed as a player since his move from St Mirren to Easter Road last summer, and credits Stubbs and the Hibs coaching staff for his improvement.

As captain of the Scotland Under-21s, he was one of several young players who impressed Gordon Strachan when he spent time with the squad last November.

The 21-year-old aims to use his time training with the squad ahead of the Denmark game at Hampden to show he can make the step up to full international level.

"It's a big step up and I'm really looking forward to showing I'm capable of making that step up," he added. "That's something myself and some of the other new boys will be looking to do.

"The last trip with the 21s that Gordon was there, we knew from the stuff that Ricky [Sbragia] was telling us that he was really keen on how people conducted themselves about the place and in training.

"We knew that if we trained well, we'd have a chance and he'd have a look at us. It's something that I'll be looking to do this time again and hopefully perform as well as I did the last time.

"My first few initial games for Scotland [Under-21s] were difficult. I didn't adapt well, but the more I played the more I got used to the international style. Being the captain of the 21s added a bit of maturity and helped me for the step up."

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