PAUL Heckingbottom admits Kilmarnock are in the ‘driving seat’ in the race for Europe after Hibs allowed an Edinburgh derby victory to slip through their grasp at the weekend.

The Easter Road side were in command of Sunday’s clash with Hearts following a Christophe Berra own goal but succumbed to a late Uche Ikpeazu equaliser in the 1-1 draw.

Victory would have taken the capital side to within two points of Killie in fourth place, with the two teams still to face each other in their remaining three matches.

But Heckingbottom has confessed that the draw, which extended his unbeaten run since taking over from Neil Lennon to 10 games, leaves the Ayrshire men - who are three points adrift of third-placed Aberdeen - with the advantage.

HeraldScotland:

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He said: “The three points would have made all the difference, because it would have been in our hands. That’s why the boys were disappointed.

“Regardless of the derby - a big game for us, for the players, for the fans, everything - there are also other things at stake.

“It would have been lovely to have been just two points behind Kilmarnock, and then it’s in our hands.

“We would have to match their results and beat them when we play them.

“But they’re still in the driving seat.”

Heckingbottom spoke at the weekend of his desire to retain the services of on-loan Genoa midfielder Stephane Omeonga and has been linked with a possible move for Rangers midfielder Greg Docherty.

The lure of European football next season, which fourth place would achieve should Hearts lose to Celtic in the Scottish Cup final, would help Heckingbottom in his recruitment drive.

And he insists he is keeping his focus on doing all he can to keep the Easter Road side in the hunt for fourth as they go into their final three games against Rangers, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen.

HeraldScotland:

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He added: “There’s things for the future going on in the background but this season is very much alive still.

“We’ll be fighting for everything and that’s what makes the games big. It’s that stage of the season.

"We want to be in the hunt right to the very end. It may still not be enough, but we’re going to try to play for it.”