Gary Mackay-Steven has a hand full of metal as he strives to help Hearts get their paws on silverware.
The winger will make his comeback from injury in Saturday’s Edinburgh derby wearing a special cast to protect a hand which has had to be reinforced with metal plates after a painful break against Dundee United.
It all sounds a bit bionic superhero as Mackay-Steven steels himself for a potential double knockout blow to Hibs in the league and Scottish Cup semi final over the next week.
It starts with this afternoon’s clash at Tynecastle in which a Jambos’ victory could condemn Hibs to the bottom six before next weekend’s trip Hampden derby date.
And GMS said: “I was desperate to be back. I was looking at the calendar, at all the games, and these ones are the ones I didn’t want to miss.
“I’m happy I’ve made it – just and no more! Because of the way I fell I broke the bone in the back of my hand. I needed an operation to get it fixed. I knew straightaway, and I needed a lot of metal work in my hand.
“I’ve plates and all sorts of metal in there now. It is a bit weird but you get used to it. I couldn’t do contact until this week but I was running before that. It’s not too bad at all. I don’t use my hands too much so as long as it’s protected a little bit then it’s fine.
“To be honest, Craig Halkett tested it in training – we were shoulder to shoulder and he tested it quite well!
“At the start of the season these are the games you look forward to, and to have them back to back, with so much to play for, it is amazing – especially with the first one being at home.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere and the boys have been buzzing in training. We all want to be in the starting line-up for this and then in the one to follow. It’s great to play in these games, they don’t come bigger.”
It’s been little over a month since the injury was sustained.
But Mackay-Steven hopes his return can have a big hand in delivering a first derby win of the campaign for Hearts after two goalless draws to hammer home their 16-point Premiership superiority over Hibs.
He said: “A derby is a derby and they are massive. The first game is huge. We are at home and we haven’t won a derby yet this year. So far they have been close games, so we want to make sure we play as best we can at home and use the crowd to our advantage and get a win.
“You know from previous games that they are tight, they are frantic, and everyone gives everything.
“There is nothing between the teams. When a derby comes, form goes out the window. We’ve been doing well in the league and maybe Hibs have not done as well as they maybe would have liked, but come the game, it will be tough.”
Hearts are coasting to third spot but for Hibs, victory is vital in Gorgie if they want to make sure of a top-six finish.
However Mackay-Steven doesn’t buy any claims the game means more to Shaun Maloney’s side – as he insists the Jambos are desperate to ram home their top flight supremacy over their rivals.
He said: “We would argue that it means as much to us as it does to Hibs. It’s a derby, a huge game for the city, for the fans and for us and our season. We want to win.
“It doesn’t matter what’s on the line. It’s a derby game. Every single derby game is massive. So it’s a huge game for us too.
“So far, both games were 0-0. So we want to put that right. We want to create chances, take our chances and get three points.
“We haven’t done that yet. It’s a big incentive to go and show why we are in the position we are in the league.”
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Derbies are becoming something of a collector’s item for Mackay-Steven. This season he’s added the Edinburgh version to those in Glasgow, Dundee and New York.
He said: “The derbies I’ve played in are all unique in their own way. Every derby is massive and the atmosphere for this one has been so good.
“Tynecastle’s atmosphere is great anyway but on a derby day it’s a little more special.
“The week building up to a derby has a different feel. You know from going around the city how much the game means to everyone. In Edinburgh they are all either Hearts or Hibs fans. It’s an atmosphere you relish.
“These are the games you look forward to most. They are the ones you want to play in because if you win it’s an amazing feeling. Hopefully I’ll get my first derby win this weekend.”