JAMES JEGGO admits securing European football should be non-negotiable for Hibs - even as they face a fiendishly tough conclusion to the season.

Despite Sunday’s 3-1 defeat at home to Rangers, Lee Johnson’s side can still secure a place in next term’s Europa Conference League qualifiers. But with their final two fixtures coming against champions Celtic and city rivals Hearts, nothing is guaranteed as St Mirren remain in the conversation to finish fifth, just two points behind the Easter Road men.

Jeggo only arrived in Edinburgh in January but is already ‘well aware of the expectation’. However, ahead of Celtic coming to the capital on Wednesday night, the 31-year-old recognises it’s a tough ask to take maximum points.

“Yeah, massive, massive,” he said of the need to be in Europe. “A club like Hibs has to be in Europe. We are all well aware of the expectation.

“As players that’s where we want to be. We know there are two really big games coming up and it is going to be difficult. But the gaffer is clear we are building and there is another window coming up and all that kind of stuff.

“It is a big advantage to the club having European football and also us as a team. It provides us with more chances to grow and more chances to get better.”

Jeggo was careful not to overegg the positives from the weekend loss, but saw enough in Hibs’ performance to suggest they are moving in the right direction under Johnson’s management.

“Obviously we have lost a game 3-1 so we don’t want to be saying: ‘That was really good’,” he said.

“But there were definite positives in the performance. It comes down to those moments. If we take one of those chances… 

“There were also a lot of situations in the first-half when we broke well and maybe didn’t make the right decision or the final pass wasn’t there. We know we can hurt teams that way. It is up to us to keep getting closer and closer to them.

READ MORE: Hibs manager Lee Johnson hits out at referee's call in Rangers loss

“They are a very good side. We knew to an extent what they were going to do. We worked on it, we had a game plan and I think we did it well in terms of I can’t remember them really carving us open, especially in the first-half. I think in the main, both defensively and tactically, we did quite well.”