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Attending to league form is all that is now on Hibs' agenda

Michael Nelson has acknowledged the growing confidence in the younger players at Hibernian.

Michael Nelson is over cup exit
Michael Nelson is over cup exit

It is a point he has had to concede during weekly team meetings, when the players meet up on a Monday to air their views on their last match. It had at first seemed like an occasion which would be dominated by experienced figures but Nelson has found that his younger colleagues can hold their own when given the floor.

Their most recent meeting might also prove to be their most fractious. Hibs were forced out of the William Hill Scottish Cup last weekend after losing to SPFL Championship side Raith Rovers at Easter Road. Nelson played in the match, but the defender has got past his disappointment in time to welcome Ross County to Leith this afternoon.

A return to league duty has overcome frustration in cup competition and that has been helped further by the squad taking the opportunity to speak their minds at the start of the week. "We have the meetings on a Monday regardless of whether we have won, lost or drawn," said Nelson. "It's about getting that game out of your system. Everyone has a chat, everyone gets to say their piece whether they are experienced or a young lad. Then you get it out of your system and get fully focused on the next game in hand.

"The young lads pitch in now, although maybe not so early on when the manager first came in. The manager goes around and rather than waiting on people to speak he'll engage them. It is better even if you say something and are shot down to get it out there and then it is gone and dealt with."

The weekly confabs are an innovation of Terry Butcher, who took over as Hibs manager in November. He left behind a settled job and comfortable life in Inverness as a result - a decision which is perhaps understood best by Derek Adams. The County manager left his club to become the assistant manager to Colin Calderwood at Easter Road in 2010, but was to return after just six months. That was long enough to gain a keen understanding of the size of Hibs and also the scale of work which Butcher is required to carry out.

"There is a huge expectation at Hibernian, and rightly so because of the size of the club and the two Scottish Cup finals they have been to in recent years," said Adams. "The supporters down there want success in the cups and they want to do well in the league. They are one of the biggest clubs in Scotland, so there is that pressure at Hibs and you just have to handle it.

"It's a very good job and a fantastic club to work for, so it was a great opportunity for Terry to have. He has embraced the challenge of turning around the fortunes of the football club. But we have our own focus and agenda and we are going down there looking to get the win."

That would seem a more attainable aim for a County side which has lost just once in six matches, turning around the form which had taken them towards the lower reaches the SPFL Premiership. That run of results has been helped by the fresh legs brought in during the transfer window - with Jordan Slew, the on-loan Blackburn Rovers striker, among those to arrive last month. Another, Filip Kiss, is suspended for the trip to Edinburgh today.

However, Slew was quick also to acknowledge the work done by those players who were already a part of the County squad. "It's not just about the six players who have come in," he said. "The guys who have been here for a long time, particularly the captain Richard Brittain, have looked after us brilliantly.

"They have made us feel right at home from the very start and that has shown on the pitch where we have bonded together quickly."

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