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RUSSELL LATAPY engineered Falkirk's stunning win over Rangers last weekend and is backing Hibs to give them just as tough a time - if they stick to what they're good at.


He may be 38, but the former Easter Road midfielder ran the Ibrox side ragged on Sunday, spraying passes around the park and controlling midfielder better than someone half his age.

He believes the key to Falkirk's win was that they got the ball down on the deck and played the passing game which has become their trademark this season.

The Trinidad star sees huge similarities between the Bairns and Hibs and has been impressed by some of the football on display at Easter Road over the last couple of seasons.

He said: "I am a big fan of Hibs. It's hard not to be because of the way that they are playing football right now and with all of the fantastic young players that they have in the side.

"There are similarities between Falkirk and Hibs because they are both teams who like to get the ball down on the pitch and pass it about and I think that is a lot to do with the managers.

"I think that sometimes in the game you need young blood and right now there are a few young managers coming in, John Collins and John Hughes being two of them, with fresh ideas about how they want the game to be played. That can only be a good thing for the game."

Rangers have suffered five defeats in the SPL so far this season, the latest coming against Falkirk, and have fallen a massive 16 points behind leaders Celtic.

They have struggled to find consistency under Paul Le Guen and their form on the domestic front has failed to match up to their impressive results in the UEFA Cup.

Latapy warned that the Ibrox side will still be hurting from Sunday's 1-0 defeat and will be looking to bounce back, although he admitted that Hibs will travel to Govan full of confidence. He added: "Football is always 11 against 11, you never know what is going to happen from one game to the next. There is always the argument that teams who have just suffered a defeat will be looking to bounce straight back. But, by the same token, I'm pretty sure that Hibs will be thinking that they've got a good chance. They are playing well and they are unbeaten under the new manager so they will be full of confidence."

Sunday's win over Rangers moved the Bairns up into seventh place in the table, just three points behind Hearts, but Latapy insists his side's main concern this season is still to avoid relegation.

While he was delighted to take all three points against Rangers, he says that the Falkirk players are simply focusing on maintaining their passing game and that a top-six finish would simply be a bonus. He added: "We're just trying to keep our feet on the ground, there's no doubt that it was a great result but our main objective is still to secure our Premier League status.

"The thing is, everyone at the club has really humble ambitions for this season. We just want to play in the Premier League. Having said that we want to continue to play the type of football that we have been playing and if we keep doing that we hope we will win a lot more games than we will lose. But we don't want to be jumping about talking about that kind of thing. We will just go about our business quietly and if, at the end of the season, we are up in the top half of the table then we will be delighted.

"It's all very well doing it against Rangers or Celtic, but we have to do it against the rest of the teams too. For some reason we always seem to do quite well against the bigger teams in the league, the Celtics, Rangers, Hibs or Hearts. Maybe it is because they are the teams who want to pass the ball around as well.

"No disrespect to the others, but when we play the so-called lesser teams in the league who want to pass the ball less, we seem to struggle a bit more."

The veteran midfielder spent three years at Easter Road before moving on to Rangers, Dundee United and now Falkirk, and has been one of the top flight's outstanding players over the past decade.

Latapy is given more of a free rein than the young guns at Falkirk, taking part in shorter training sessions these days in a bid to prolong his footballing career. Admitting that the day when he finally hangs up his boots - ending a career which has seen him showcase his talents both in Scotland and in Portugal with top sides Boavista and Porto - is edging ever closer, he believes there is plenty of talent in the Scottish game to replace him.

He added: "Obviously I try to do as much training as I can with the boys and try to keep myself in shape. There has been a lot of stuff documented about my lifestyle in the past but it is impossible to keep playing at this level if you haven't looked after yourself.

"Like everything else, there will come a time when I have to stop and I know it will be difficult for me. It's what I've always done throughout my life.

"Because I considered retiring a few years ago, I like to think that I have prepared myself for it, but only time will tell.

"No matter what happens though, I will continue to be involved in the game and I will always enjoy playing a game of football. What I would probably miss most would be the buzz of running out in front of 10,000 fans on a Saturday and playing in important games where the stakes are high.

"Obviously I want to play for as long as possible although another two more seasons is definitely pushing it. When I came to Falkirk, I said to Yogi that I would do as much as I could to help the club progress and that hasn't changed. If I can continue to help them as a player then I will be delighted to do that, but my body will determine how long I can go on for. I don't want to cheat the club and I don't want to cheat the fans and I especially don't want to cheat John. We have always been honest with each other and if my body tells me I can't continue to play for 90 minutes then I will tell him that. If he wants me to go out and play for half an hour instead then I would be delighted to do that for him.

"I think that there is a lot of talent coming through in Scotland, off the top of my head Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson, Steven Naismith, Barry Nicholson, Gary Dempsey and a lot of the young players at Falkirk.

"The league is full of talent. At the same time, though, you need experience and the right attitude and mentality and I think it is just a question of giving these lads a season or two to develop their game all round. I think they all have fantastic careers ahead of them at club level and at international level too.

"You've just got to do the best that you can for yourself and for your family."