Scottish Premier League

Hibs skipper raring to go

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Thu, 06 Jun 2013 12:32:00

England have slipped two places to ninth in the latest FIFA world rankings, with Spain remaining in top spot.

Roy Hodgson's side drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland last week before securing an entertaining 2-2 draw in Brazil on Sunday but that was not enough to prevent them dropping in the standings.

Netherlands climbed four places into fifth position, despite not playing in May.

Spain continue to hold a comfortable lead over Germany, Argentina and Croatia at the top of the tree, while Portugal and Colombia slipped a pace each to tuck in behind the Netherlands.

Italy retain eighth position just ahead of England, with Ecuador completing the top 10.

Belgium and Bosnia-Herzegovina have reached their highest-ever positions since the rankings were introduced, as they secured 12th and 15th positions, respectively.

Marc Wilmots' side benefited from a 4-2 friendly victory in the USA, while Bosnia-Herzegovina have now gone unbeaten for over a year in a run that comprises eight matches without defeat.

Two other teams have also achieved their highest-ever position in the latest rankings, with Mali up three places to 23rd and Albania up five positions to 38th.

Meanwhile, Brazil, who have only been involved in friendlies as they prepare to host the 2014 World Cup, dropped to 22nd place in the standings as they continue to be affected by the fact that such games score less than competitive matches in FIFA's calculations.

The upcoming FIFA Confederations Cup and the latest round of qualifiers for the next World Cup will offer Brazil the opportunity to advance in the next edition of the FIFA Rankings though.

The defender was ruled out for the 3-0 defeat to Celtic at Hampden after aggravating a lower back injury.

But the 28-year-old is now planning to return to training when the pre-season schedule starts in less than two weeks' time ahead of the club's Europa League campaign.

Hibs will learn who they will face in the second qualifying round when the draw is made by UEFA on Monday, June 24.

McPake told the Leith side's official website: "I'm aiming to be back fit and back in training when pre-season starts, so that I'm up to speed when the matches start.

"It promises to be an exciting season for Hibs with the Europa League qualifiers and we will also be looking to build on last season in the SPL.

"It was a massive disappointment to miss out on the cup final. I thought I'd done enough to make myself available for selection.

"But then in the week leading up to the final I experienced another set-back. It was really tough to take because I would have loved to have led the team out at Hampden.

"Now I'm focusing all my energy on coming back stronger and helping the team next season - improving on what we did last year and making more progress."

McPake made 32 starts for Hibs last season - with only Jorge Claros, Paul Hanlon, Leigh Griffiths and Ben Williams ahead of him in appearances for the club.

The centre-half is currently recharging his batteries ahead of the new campaign and was keen to quash internet rumours claiming he had undergone back surgery.

He added: "I'm enjoying a brief summer holiday at the moment before the start of pre-season and I'm also looking forward to becoming a dad for the first time in August.

"Some friends have been in touch with me recently about these rumours, but they aren't true - I haven't had an operation and I'm not planning to have one.

"My main aim now is to put everything I can into making Hibernian successful next season and give our inspirational supporters something to cheer about."

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