Lee Johnson believes an Edinburgh derby victory that would guarantee European football and see Hibernian leapfrog rivals Hearts in the Premiership table would be the “cherry on the top” of his side’s comeback campaign.

The Easter Road outfit’s surprise 4-2 defeat of Celtic on Wednesday saw them move to within two points of Hearts and to within one more win of supplanting their capital foes in fourth place in the table.

Tomorrow’s head-to-head at Tynecastle now carries more than just the usual city bragging rights, as Hearts attempt to prevent the possibility of saying goodbye to third in the table and then losing fourth within the space of three costly days.

For Hibs, where Johnson’s job appeared to be on the line just a matter of weeks ago, there is now the tantalising prospect of a significant victory if they can dig out one last big performance to match their Celtic success.

Even their current fifth will be good enough for continental competition unless Inverness Caley Thistle pull off a major shock and win the Scottish Cup final against Celtic.

“I feel if we were to get into Europe we’d have done that anyway,” said Johnson of trying to change the narrative of his team’s season. “But this would be the cherry on the top of the cake of what I would call the comeback, or turnaround, or whatever you want to call it.

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“It has been a difficult job, this. It’s been difficult in terms of all the bits we have talked about previously, the discipline, the professionalism. But we have really got it going.

“And that’s why when you get beaten by Rangers you take it hard. But then three days later you put in a performance like that against Celtic. It proves to the players, most importantly, but also the fans, all the work everyone is putting in is bearing fruit.”

Hibs arrested a nine-game winless streak in the derby with their 1-0 victory over Hearts last month but Johnson accepts the trip across the capital to Tynecastle presents a completely different challenge.

As a former Hearts player, he is fully aware there will be a red-hot atmosphere awaiting him and his players but has revealed they had a novel way of ensuring their preparations remained cool after drafting in a mobile cryotherapy lab for training yesterday as players were exposed to the benefits of extreme cold temperatures.

“I brought that in from the ‘war fund’ the club give me to dip into every now and again,” he added. “I felt it was a good little addition, not just for recovery and rejuvenation in terms of the body, but it also helps with sleep. Go in there a couple of times and it guarantees you sleep.”

Meanwhile, Hibs have announced that former striker Gareth Evans has been promoted to become the club’s new academy director to replace Steve Kean, who has departed for a managerial job in Georgia.