Hibs: European chase can help attract new faces, says Paul Heckingbottom

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Stevie Mallan and Paul Heckingbottom
Hibernian are yet to lose a league game under Paul Heckingbottom

The race for European places can be a great showcase for attracting players, says Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom.

The Easter Road side are fifth in the Scottish Premiership - six points off Kilmarnock and Aberdeen.

Finishing third would secure a Europa League qualifying place and fourth may also hold the same reward if Celtic win the title and the Scottish Cup.

"That was one of the main reasons I came here and wanted to chase that," said Heckingbottom.

"There are lots of ways to impress a player. One is by the type of football you play and the role they could play and saying this is how we are going to make you better.

"Anyone watching us now will see us playing Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and another Edinburgh derby. Those are the games you want to be involved in. So you would be foolish not to use these opportunities. We want to get in Europe for us but there is a knock on effect."

On Sunday, Celtic travel to Easter Road and, depending on results on Saturday, could wrap up the Premiership title with a win.

Neil Lennon's side are the only team to have defeated Hibs under Heckingbottom - in the Scottish Cup - as the Easter Road boss remains unbeaten in eight league games.

"It's just winning the game," said the former Leeds and Barnsley manager. "It doesn't matter what Celtic are playing for.

"I'm expecting Celtic to be better now that the finish line is in sight. In terms of that, you are never going to be playing them when they are not hungry so it makes for a good game."

Meanwhile, winger Martin Boyle has trained for the first time on grass since suffering a knee injury when on international duty with Australia in January.

"We will get him back when he is ready," added Heckingbottom. "We need him to be flying for the start of next season."

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