Hibs players out to prove point after Neil Lennon criticism, says John McGinn

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Hibernian midfielder John McGinn
John McGinn has been capped twice for Scotland
Scottish Cup fifth-round replay: Hibernian v Hearts
Venue: Easter Road Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Wednesday 22 February Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sport Online

John McGinn says Hibernian players need to "focus" on their manager's criticism last weekend and "prove him wrong" against Hearts in the Scottish Cup.

Neil Lennon said his side's performance was unacceptable in the 1-1 draw against Raith Rovers, with McGinn one of three players he singled out.

The midfielder believes the strong words were justified.

"He'd have been having a go at me because he knows I can do more," the 22-year-old Scotland cap said.

"He does that because he wants the best out of the players. Me, Jase [Cummings], [Fraser] Fyvie, the ones who were mentioned, we can all do more.

"The manager is the first person to praise us when we do well, so you can't be crying about the negatives.

"We've got to turn it around and prove to the manager that we can do it.

'Dropped their standards'

"That's what he wanted from us, a reaction, and we'll give him that on Wednesday night [against Hearts in their fifth-round replay]."

Lennon says that he did not intend to single the three players out, because he felt the team as a whole let their standards drop for the Championship game.

And the manager expects to see a reaction at Easter Road, when Hearts travel across the city for their replay.

"I've not been able to do much with them in the last couple of days," said Lennon. "We only had 14 training today, so we kept it pretty light.

"They're buoyant. They know they dropped their standards by a long way on Saturday for 45 minutes, but the last half-hour was very good.

Hibernian manager Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon thinks the Easter Road pitch should help both sides on Wednesday

"In terms of their character, they've got that in abundance. In terms of their application and the way they approached the game, letting the malaise set in in the first half, they know that's not acceptable.

"I singled a few players out, but they were the first ones that came to mind.

"I could have singled nine or 10 out, it was nothing personal.

"A few of them, I don't know if they had one eye on Wednesday and maybe that was me having a backhanded go at them for that. We can't pick and choose our games."

'We go in as slight underdogs'

Hibs knocked Hearts out of the completion in a replay at Easter Road last season, before going on to win the competition for the first time in 114 years.

Lennon has consistently maintained that securing promotion to the Premiership is the priority for the campaign, but he insists Hibs "want to defend the trophy".

He expects an "open, high-energy, fast-paced" game at Easter Road and believes there is little between the two sides, despite Hearts being fourth in the Premiership and Hibs top of the second tier.

"I can see it being a tight affair again," Lennon said.

"We'll go in as slight underdogs again, which is good, I don't mind that.

"People seem to think the pitch will suit Hearts and the way they want to play, but the flipside of that is that it will suit Hibs as well and the way we want to play.

"I expect the game to be feisty, to be pretty even and maybe a goal or two will separate the two teams."

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