Leith-based Morais out to make home fans proud

LIVING in Leith has left Filipe Morais in no doubt how much victory over Hearts in tomorrow's derby means to the Hibernian support.

The flamboyant Anglo-Portuguese winger is champing at the bit to be involved in tomorrow's match at Easter Road after sitting out last Saturday's disappointing 1-0 home defeat to St Mirren. The former Millwall and Chelsea player received a straight red card for a challenge at Motherwell two weeks ago and revealed that he initially feared he would miss the derby.

"That was one of my first thoughts after it happened," said Morais. "I was pestering the manager and people at the club to tell me how long I'd be banned but they weren't sure. There was a nervy couple of days then I discovered it was only a one-match ban because I had no yellow cards. It was a huge relief."

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The straight red, a first in Morais' career, was almost universally agreed to be on the harsh side, but the Portugal Under-21 internationalist bears no grudges against referee Charlie Richmond.

"I wouldn't want to be in the referee's shoes," said the 21-year-old, who grew up in London. "I watch Match of the Day and I see incidents in slow motion replay and I still don't know what decision I'd make. So there's no hard feelings against Mr Richmond."

Looking ahead to tomorrow's showdown, Morais is well aware that the home support want nothing less than three points after slipping to two consecutive league defeats.

"I'm really looking forward to it, as the fans help get you going," said Morais. "I'm living in Leith, where most of the fans are based. Before the game, you do think of them and know how much it means to them.

"I was getting my shopping in Tesco this week and the guy at the checkout was saying to me 'you better be up for this one, this is the one we want to win'. So I'm fully aware what's at stake."

Morais added: "We all want to do well and get our winning ways back again. Just like Rangers or Celtic matches, it's a big game on Sunday and a good occasion to showcase your ability - that's what players want.

"We did play badly against St Mirren and deserved to lose, but the losses have come really weirdly, as we were on such a high at beating the big clubs.

"Apart from St Mirren, we were unlucky to lose with 10 men at Motherwell and could have pushed them to maybe get a win.

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"But losses happen and we have to look forward now. It's still a successful season so far and we've just got to keep it going."

Hibs manager John Collins has Guillaume Beuzelin available again and the Frenchman will play his 100th game for Hibs if selected.

Top scorer Steven Fletcher is also back but Dean Shiels will serve an automatic one-match ban following his red card against St Mirren last weekend.