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By ESPN Staff

McBride ready for Mowbray's Celtic challenge

Kevin McBride has warned Celtic that Hibernian are ''not there just to make up the numbers'' this season ahead of their first meeting of the campaign tomorrow.

Hoops boss Tony Mowbray returns to Easter Road to face his former club, with both teams boasting a 100% start in the Premier League.

Making up the numbers is exactly what Hibs did last season as they scraped into the top six ahead of Motherwell. But new manager John Hughes has revitalised the club to such an extent that victory tomorrow will give them their best start in the top flight since 1975. Hibs split the Old Firm that year, finishing second ahead of Celtic.

Summer signing McBride knows the visitors will be expected to win but insists he and his team-mates have other ideas.

''They're out to win every game, but we're there to win as well,'' said the midfielder, who started his career at Parkhead. ''We're not there just to make up the numbers. We've got a tough task ahead of us. Celtic are a great team but we'll go out and try to get the win.''

McBride, who followed Hughes to Easter Road from Falkirk, is not expecting Celtic to suffer a hangover from Wednesday night's Champions League play-off round defeat at Arsenal.

He said: ''I think they'll be fresh and they've got a big enough squad to bring players in, so we know it's going to be a tough game but we'll be up for it.''

Hibs have won all three league and cup matches this season trying to play the kind of passing game for which Hughes has become renowned.

Despite facing a much higher standard of opposition tomorrow, McBride does not believe they need to sacrifice their footballing principles for the three points.

''I think we'll just go out and concentrate on our own game,'' he said. ''The way we've played so far has been pretty good. They're a fantastic team, they've got a new manager as well, who they'll be desperate still to impress.

''We're in the same situation, we've got a new manager, we're off to a good start, we've plenty of confidence in the camp so we can try to cause an upset.''

Hughes has repeatedly praised the attitude of his squad since his appointment, criticising only last month's 3-1 friendly defeat to Preston.

He revealed there had been a frank exchange of views during that game, since which performances have steadily improved.

McBride added: ''I think the turning point was the Preston game. We got beaten 3-1, I think our heads went down. But the manager had a word with us and told us not to let that affect us. We then played Blackburn and Bolton and we got two clean sheets so that'll stand us in good stead for the Old Firm games.''

McBride, 28, has been delighted with how he has been received since joining Hibs, adding: ''The fans have been good, the boys have been great with me as well. Obviously, I've worked under the manager before so I know what he's expecting.''


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