Jack Ross insists Saturday’s showdown with Aberdeen will not make or break Hibernian’s ambitions of finishing third.
The to-and-fro tussle between Ross’ Leith outfit and Derek McInnes’ under-pressure Dons took another twist this week as Hibs moved back above their rivals.
Victory over St Mirren and the Reds’ defeat at home to Livingston mean the Easter Road outfit now have a two-point lead, albeit having played a game more.
However, Hibs can put daylight between themselves and their nearest challengers when they welcome McInnes’ team to Edinburgh this weekend.
But while Ross is well aware of the significance of the game, he does not believe a knock-out blow will be delivered to either side as he predicted their battle will go down to the wire.
He said: “Is this biggest league game of the season so far? No, I don’t think so, purely just because of the number of games that lie after it.
“If this fixture was taking place with a couple of games left, I’d accept that was the case.
“It is an important match and a big match in the context of where we want to finish in the table.
“We’re playing a team that we have swapped places with all season so I’m not downplaying the fact it’s a big match.
“But given the number of games to be played before and after the split then I think the consequences of a result either way are not season defining if you like.
“But it will be very, very important.”
Ross hinted he could hand recalls to Ryan Porteous and Kevin Nisbet after benching both players for Hibs’ last two games following big-money interest from down south.
Porteous shrugged off an unsuccessful £1million bid from Millwall to head home the opener against St Mirren on Tuesday after being introduced at half-time.
Nisbet – who reportedly submitted a transfer request after Birmingham had a £2.5million bid rejected before Monday’s deadline – was also involved late on in Paisley.
Ross said: “I said I thought both players would handle (the speculation) no problem and I think they showed that with their contribution on the pitch in midweek.
“They both had an influence in us winning the St Mirren match and their attitude to the game and how keen they were to help us win was evident.
“I never doubted that but I thought it was nice for other people to see it first hand.
“They are in the right place and there is a lot for them to play for over the remainder of the season.”