Can Hibernian be caught in gallop to Premiership top six?

Top six graphic

With games running out before the Scottish Premiership split, there are arguably four teams fighting it out to reach the top six.

More prize money and extra visits by the country's bigger teams can positively impact budgets for the following season and help bolster the squad of the team who sneaks into the top half of the table.

Hearts are not arithmetically confirmed in the top six yet, but it would take an unlikely sequence of results for them to slip into the bottom half.

Of the rest, Hibernian are currently in the driving seat after beating Motherwell 2-0 on Saturday, but BBC Scotland examines the hopes of all the teams aiming for sixth spot.

The favourites - Hibernian

Remaining fixtures: Livingston (a), Kilmarnock (h), Heart of Midlothian (a)

The Edinburgh side's impressive win over Motherwell means they are in the box seat for the final top-six berth.

Their league form has been mightily impressive since Paul Heckingbottom replaced Neil Lennon as head coach last month. Further wins over Hamilton Academical, Dundee and St Johnstone - and a draw with Rangers - means the former Leeds United and Barnely manager is yet to taste defeat in the league.

With a five-point cushion, one more win might just be enough to ensure a top-half finish.

They face Livingston away, Kilmarnock at home and then city rivals Hearts at Tynecastle before the split. And, with striker Marc McNulty in fantastic form, it would take a collapse for Hibs to be knocked off their perch.

Marc McNulty's form since joining Hibs on-loan from Reading in January has been impressive
Marc McNulty's form since joining Hibs on-loan from Reading in January has been impressive

Best of the rest - Motherwell

Remaining fixtures: St Johnstone (h), Aberdeen (a), Rangers (h)

Motherwell teenagers David Turbull and Jake Hastie celebrate
Motherwell teenagers David Turbull and Jake Hastie have been key to Motherwell's resurgence

After the first half of the season, Motherwell looked more likely to be involved in a desperate relegation scrap rather than pushing for the top six.

But a tactical shift from manager Stephen Robinson helped propel the Lanarkshire side to six games on the bounce to push them into contention for a finish in the top half.

However, defeat at Easter Road at the weekend means they now trail the Easter Road side by five points and Hearts by seven.

A trip to face Aberdeen and a home match against Rangers follows their next game with St Johnstone, though, which means it will take an enormous effort and a bit of luck to secure a first top-six finish under Robinson.

The long shots - Livingston and St Johnstone

Livingston remaining fixtures: Hibernian (h), Hamilton (h), Celtic (a)

St Johnstone remaining fixtures: Motherwell (a), Dundee (h), Kilmarnock (a), St Mirren (h) (rearranged fixture)

Nobody would have predicted Livingston would even be in with a sniff of top six on their return to the top flight. Relegation seemed far more likely.

But, after an astonishing first four months of the season, that's exactly where they stood. A run of one win in 11 games from December, though, has harmed their top-half hopes and a seven-point gap looks too much to make up with three games left.

Beat Hibs in their next match, though, and things are blown wide open.

St Johnstone, meanwhile, have four games to play after the weekend's scheduled visit by St Mirren was postponed.

Their form, though, is atrocious.

Tommy Wright's men have taken just one point from the last 24 available but do have a habit of following dreadful runs with excellent ones, as demonstrated by their eight-match unbeaten streak with seven clean sheets from late October to December.

Nonetheless, they would need to beat Motherwell, Dundee, Kilmarnock and St Mirren and hope for favours elsewhere.

Livingston and St Johnstone are outsiders for a top six berth
Livingston and St Johnstone are outsiders for a top six berth

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