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Adams hopes to upset his former team

It is a measure of the short-termism at Easter Road that Lewis Stevenson becomes momentarily puzzled while talking about Derek Adams, the former Hibernian assistant manager.

"It's a bit of a jumble considering all the different managers I've had," he says, frowning. At 24, Stevenson has worked under six managers in seven years at Easter Road, and his own form has fluctuated as much as the team's during that time.

Currently an active member of the first-team squad, he has yet to secure a particular starting position, since others have excelled at left-back, left midfield and in the centre of the pitch. He offers versatility, though, something his manager, Pat Fenlon, will value as he lacks a large pool of players.

Adams spent half a year at Easter Road, as assistant to Colin Calderwood, when Stevenson was still in the formative years of his career. The two will meet again today, when Adams' Ross County side visit Easter Road.

"I got on well with him," said Stevenson of the Ross County manager. "He was sound. Every manager and every coach I've had has helped me in a different way. But he was a good guy who's done pretty well since he left here.

"They're going through a sticky patch but I'm sure they'll be okay. We've been on a good run, then lost a few games on the bounce. Boxing Day's as good a day as any to turn things round. I don't know if they will be staying in Edinburgh on Christmas night to prepare. If they do, they'll have a point to prove as they'll be away from their families."

For a time, Hibs were the closest challengers to Celtic at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, and Fenlon's side could at least still target a qualifying place for Europe. Two wins in their last seven games might have subdued those ambitions, but on their day the team is still capable of matching any of their opponents in the SPL.

There may be an over-reliance on Leigh Griffiths, the on-loan Wolverhampton Wanderers striker who may yet have to return to England, but the midfield is compact and tough, and the defence less fragile than in recent years.

"A few seasons ago, we got off to a good start yet fell away after Christmas," Stevenson said. "We need to try and keep it going this time. The [defeat by] Motherwell was disappointing, but we got a decent point against Killie [last Sunday]. We've a good group of lads – a tight squad. I've been involved in squads for Europe with Dnipro and Maribor and played in the Intertoto. They were good trips and we'd love to get in that position again."

Adams, meanwhile, is aiming to upset one of the people he most admires in Scottish football.

The Ross County manager spent six months at Hibs before returning to mastermind last season's Irn-Bru First Division title triumph. He feels a debt of gratitude to Hibernian chairman Rod Petrie for his part in smoothing the path back to Dingwall, as well as for his steep learning curve in Edinburgh. All of that will count for nothing as Adams seeks to arrest County's run of nine games without victory. But the Dingwall manager, who enjoyed victory at home to Fenlon's team earlier in the campaign, said: "Hibs have a good home record, but it is a place I enjoy going. There are a lot of people I still keep in contact with. Rod Petrie is an individual I admire greatly. He is a great chairman and has a lovely, dry sense of humour. He has done a terrific job with Sir Tom Farmer for that football club. If it wasn't for Rod, they wouldn't be where they are. He deserves a lot of credit."

County's recent run is not causing Adams major concern, yet he is aware of the need to kick on.

He said: "We knew it was going to be difficult and we know what we've got to do in the second half of the season to stay in the SPL. We know how many points we need to pick up to ensure we are safe.

"We are not going to go on some great long winning run. We are in a division new to a lot of the players. But we have a good opportunity with Hibs, Hearts and Inverness to try to pick up wins and points.

"We showed at the start of the season how well we could compete, and we are competing. We went to Celtic Park and posed them numerous problems in the first half. Somebody will go to Celtic Park and take a Chelsea v Aston Villa – they will give someone an eight- or nine- nil because they look like they are away to stretch their legs now."

Adams could reveal nothing about his signing intentions despite the presence of trialists at the club. He said: "We have never had the luxury of paying transfer fees. It was important to allow the players who had done well last season and those we took in during the summer to carry the torch into the SPL. It gave us continuity, but we always knew we would change things in January. We still don't have the wages to attract certain players but we're working on that. We're in a different market now and looking for a different type of player."

County have ex-Hibs striker Sam Morrow out with a knee injury, and midfielder Mark Fotheringham is recovering from a chest infection.

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