New signing Steven Whittaker reckons Hibs will shine on their Premiership return

Steven Whittaker
Steven Whittaker signed a three year deal with Hibs after leaving Norwich City

New signing Steven Whittaker says Hibernian are targeting second spot on their return to Scotland's top-flight.

The defender, 33, rejoined the Easter Road club at the weekend, 10 years after leaving for Rangers.

And Whittaker says the side promoted from the Championship in April are determined to pip the likes of Aberdeen and Rangers to a second-place finish.

"I think (second place) is something we need to aim for, something we need to believe we can achieve," he said.

Celtic ran away with the Premiership title last term with Aberdeen second and Rangers third.

And Whittaker reckons the recent positivity at Hibs can help them finish best of the rest this season, with Celtic expected to lift the title again.

"It's a squad that is on the up," he added. "They have had two successful seasons and there is a good feeling about the club.

Hibs manager Neil Lennon
Neil Lennon guided Hibs to Championship glory in his first season in charge

"The manager (Neil Lennon) has come in and demanded high standards so we will look to carry that on this season.

"We'll be expecting the best from ourselves and hopefully we'll get the best possible outcome that we can.

"There's no chance the manager will let us slack and we'll keep trying to produce."

Whittaker, who signed a three year deal with Hibs after leaving Norwich, the club he joined from Rangers in 2012, knows he cannot take his place in the side for granted.

As well as securing the Championship title under Lennon last season, Hibs also ended their 114-year wait for Scottish Cup glory in season 2015-16 under Alan Stubbs.

And David Gray, who scored the winning goal in the cup final against Rangers, just happens to play in Whittaker's favoured right-back slot.

"Depending on the opposition, the manager knows I can fill in along the back four or in midfield if needs be," the versatile former Scotland player said.

"So we will just wait and see what that brings. I'm just happy to be back playing and wherever that is I'll get on with it."

Whittaker quit Rangers following the Ibrox outfit's financial collapse in 2012.

Steven Whittaker scores for Rangers
Whittaker enjoyed five successful seasons at Rangers before leaving in 2012

Like team-mate Steven Naismith, he refused to transfer his contract over to the new company set up by Charles Green - sparking anger among Rangers fans.

Hibs visit Ibrox on 12 August and while Whittaker is unsure how he will be received, he is sure about what he hopes to take from the game.

"It was a difficult time for everyone," Whittaker said of his decision to leave Rangers. "A lot of pressure got put on the players when they were not to blame.

"We were trying to take care of business on the park with everything else going on outside, so it was difficult.

"But it was what it was and we all had to continue on as we chose.

"I don't know what kind of reception I'll get when I go back.

"I enjoyed my time there, I've got a lot of fantastic memories. It's a great place to go play your football and it's a game we at Hibs will look forward to and hopefully get the three points."

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