Robbie Neilson shrugs off Hibs top six hopes as Hearts boss insists ‘everybody needs to win a derby’


Hearts may be coasting to a third spot with a gap the length of Gorgie Road between themselves and Hibs.

But don’t even try telling Robbie Neilson that the need to win tomorrow’s capital derby at Tynecastle is any greater for the Easter Road side.

The two are separated by 16 points, with a third spot all but in the bag for the Jambos while Hibs still have work to do just to cement a top-six spot on the final weekend before the split.

Indeed a victory for Hearts could well condemn their arch rivals to a bottom half finish and deliver a body blow just as week before they meet again in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

But Neilson is long enough in the tooth to know form means nothing in derbies. After all his side of him have yet to win in two clashes this season, both ending 0-0.

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The only thing matters at Tynecastle – dishing out a first dose of capital punishment on the park to prove who rules the roost in Edinburgh.

Neilson said: “When you go into a derby you can’t say, ‘they need to win it more than us’.

“Everybody needs to win a derby, it doesn’t matter if you’re bottom of the league or top of the league.

“We’ve got four derbies a season and you want to win all four of them. We haven’t won one yet but we’ve got two back to back.

“For us, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing, we have to go and beat them. You need to win them. You want to win them.

“It doesn’t matter what league positions are or form is like or anything – it’s about winning the match.

“Yes, we’d like to win in style and play really good football but ultimately we want to win the game and that’s what we need to do.

“I don’t think it’ll have any bearing on the semi-final. It’s two big games but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself.”



Hibs Manager Shaun Maloney has a massive two games coming up

Despite that Neilson insists denying Hibs a top-six place doesn’t even come into his thinking ahead of the match.

He said: “No, you just want to win, it doesn’t matter what happens with them. What will be will be. We’re still challenging to try to secure third place.

“Shaun Maloney is an experienced coach. He has played a number of derbies and managed in one. He’s been an international assistant so he will know what he’s coming into.”

Hearts have been linked with a summer move for Livingston winger Alan Forrest but Neilson was coy, saying: “There’s a number of players that have been put to us. Just about every out of contract player in Scotland has been chucked into us.”

Meanwhile John Souttar looks certain to miss Hearts’ Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs next week after having an operation on his injured ankle.

The Rangers-bound defender hasn’t featured since being injured in the 2-2 draw against Dundee United last month.

Souttar was seen wearing a moon boot at Hearts training base at the Oriam yesterday and while Robbie Neilson stopped short of ruling him out of the Hampden clash with rivals Hibs he said the target was the last few games of the season.

Neilson said: “John is okay, he had a wee tidy up and the hope is that we will get him back for the last few games of the season. That’s got to be his aim from him.

“Firstly he wants to get back playing then there are big Scotland games coming up over the summer so he has to get himself into a position where he can get back in the squad again.”

Hearts injury woes are easing in time for the double header with Hibs. Gary Mackay-Steven will return in tomorrow’s league clash at Tynecastle wearing a protective cast on his broken hand and Nathaniel Atkinson is available again too.

Cammy Devlin and Michael Smith are both being earmarked for the semi-final.




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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