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Scotland call-up would top best season yet, says Hibs defender Paul Hanlon

Paul Hanlon (right) celebrates with Scott Allan at full time in the Edinburgh Derby (SNS Group)
Paul Hanlon (right) celebrates with Scott Allan at full time in the Edinburgh Derby (SNS Group)

HIBS defender Paul Hanlon insists the feelgood factor at Easter Road eclipses the euphoria of ending the infamous 114-year Scottish Cup hoodoo.

The Leith side remain hot on the heels of third-placed Aberdeen and are on a high after moving 12 points clear of city rivals Hearts following Friday’s derby win in front of a packed stadium in Leith.

The 2-0 victory courtesy of Scott Allan and Jamie Maclaren strikes has capped an eventful period for Hanlon.

After recently becoming a dad to Ollie, Hibs announced during the week the 28-year-old’s loyalty to the club would be recognised with a testimonial.

Life on and of the pitch could not be better for Hanlon.

And the centre-half, who played in the historic cup final victory over Rangers in 2016, admits this season has been the most enjoyable of his decade-long stint in the first team.

He said: “Obviously winning the cup was amazing, but in terms of the club and the way we are now with sell-out crowds, where we are in the league, it’s the best it has been since I’ve been here.

“The way chief executive Leeann Dempster and head of football operations George Craig have rebuilt the club – we are getting the benefits of that now.

“We did a lot of talking while we were in the Championship, saying we are a big club and the pressure was on us to come back up and prove it.

“And I think we have handled it this year and hopefully we can finish strongly.”

Hanlon added: “It has been a great couple of weeks. I had a baby boy, the testimonial has been announced and now winning the derby.”

Hanlon earned his first Scotland call-up for November’s narrow friendly defeat to the Netherlands.

New head coach Alex McLeish names his squad for friendlies against Costa Rica and Hungary tomorrow and Hanlon is keen to be involved.

He added: “I was in the last squad for Holland but it is a different manager now and it is just a case of playing well and catching the eye of the manager.

“He was at the game and if I am selected then I will be delighted.

“But now, playing at a club like Hibs and being in a good league position then I think we have a much better chance of being involved, all of us, not just me.

“We have a number who could step up.

“Our league position shows we are a match for anyone in this league when playing well.