First team

Full steam ahead

05 April 2024

Steven Naismith has stated he won’t let standards drop as the Jambos head into the business end of the season.


Sitting pretty in third and with a Scottish Cup semi-final to look forward to, the boys in maroon take one step closer to the Premiership split with a trip to St Mirren on Saturday.


Eager to push his team as far as they can go, the head coach says that his players won’t ease off with so much still to play for.


Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Steven said: “I don’t think you need to use the semi-final (as motivation) because we have got competition for places.


“On top of that, if we achieve what we want to achieve this season in the league then the full focus will be on to go as far as we can in the cup and then beyond that is starting to think how do we get better for next season? It doesn’t stop, there’s no easing off.


“The players have got international competitions in the summer. At the last international camps we had 11 boys away so we’ve got a lot of boys who want to be involved in the national set up, so there is loads to be competitive about. It’s not in my nature to let it drop off.


“We’ve got these games before the split that will go a long way. The game tomorrow is pretty similar to last week in that a good performance and win hurts the teams that are directly below you. That’s what the focus is.


“I felt last week there was a lot of good stuff that we done but we just didn’t have that cutting edge. I’m putting that down to a lot of travelling as the international boys only came back on the Friday. I’d hope we’d be fresher in that part of the game and I want to see that tomorrow.”


Naismith was able to welcome Barrie McKay back into the fold for last week’s draw with Kilmarnock. He’s not anticipating many more squad changes for the journey to Paisley on Saturday, though he has revealed that he may be without the services of one of his men in the middle of the park.


“The squad is looking good,” he said. “The only one who probably changes is Beni Baningime, he’s been ill. We’ll wait and see how he is.


“Calem Nieuwenhof is still not at that point. He’s not hit the marker that we want him to hit before pushing him back in. The rest is as has been the last few weeks.”


Steven’s press conference is available to watch in full on Hearts TV.