Scottish Cup: Hibs captain David Gray hails Lennon influence

Hibs manager Neil Lennon
Lennon won the Scottish Cup twice as Celtic manager

Captain David Gray believes the inspirational qualities of manager Neil Lennon can help Hibernian upset the odds against rivals Hearts in Sunday's Scottish Cup fifth round tie.

And the defender reckons his cup holders can go into the Tynecastle match with confidence, despite being a league below the Premiership side.

"He played and managed at the very top level," Gray said of Lennon.

"We do get inspiration from him and he'll have us ready."

Hibs go into the match top of the Championship table, while Hearts are fourth in the top flight.

Their respective positions in Scottish football's current pecking order will, however, have little bearing on Sunday's derby as far as Gray is concerned.

"The form book often goes out of the window in derbies." he told BBC Scotland. "The times we've done well against Hearts since I've been at the club, they were well clear at the top of the Championship the season we were there and we still managed to get good results against them, so it's all about who turns up on the day."

Hearts added nine new faces to their squad in January but Gray refuses to read too much into how that will impact the match. And with good reason.

"We were in a similar situation two seasons ago when Alan Stubbs came in as manager to rebuild the side then," he said.

Hibs' Neil Lennon, Gary Parker and David Gray discuss tactics
Neil Lennon, Gary Parker and David Gray hope to lead their side to a win over Hearts

"I was one of the players who'd never played in a derby so I don't think that really counts for much.

"And they signed a lot of experienced players. I'm sure they'll be well used to playing in derbies - although this one might be a wee bit different."

Gray, who scored the winner as Hibs beat Rangers in last season's final to end a 114-year wait to lift the Scottish Cup again, says Sunday's match gives the club even more focus in their promotion chase.

"These are the games that we've missed this year and games that we want to get back as soon as possible with us getting promoted," he added. "That is our main objective but at the same time we're all looking forward to this weekend."

"It's been such a long wait for the club to get it (winning the Scottish Cup), so it would be great to keep hold of it for another season for sure."

Easter Road assistant boss Garry Parker is relishing his first taste of the Edinburgh derby, and agrees with his skipper that a Hibs triumph would not represent a major shock.

"They are the Premiership team so they are the favourites, but it's a game of football and the best team will come through," Parker told BBC Scotland.

And Parker jokes that his players could have an unusual price to pay should they come up short at Tynecastle.

"People have been talking about it all the time," he said. "We've even got the kit people saying if we don't win we've got to wash our own kit."

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