First team

Naismith aware of Livingston threats

12 April 2024
Head coach Steven Naismith confirmed that every player who missed last weekend’s victory over St Mirren through illness, is back available for selection this weekend.


Lawrence Shankland and Beni Baningime were notable absentees last weekend, due to a bug, but the manager confirmed both have had a full week of training, as we enter the business end of the season.


Speaking to the media at the pre-match media conference, Naismith said:


“Everybody that has been ill, has had a normal week of training, which is fantastic for us. So, it’s only really [Craig] Halkett, [Peter] Haring and [Liam] Boycie, everyone else is back in and around the squad. Finlay Pollock has done a full week’s training, which is good for him, so we’re in a good place.


“Firstly, it’s great to have that competition, because it means keeping those levels high is easier, because everybody wants to play.


“You have split games, which are against the teams at the top end of the league, plus you’ve got a semi-final to look forward to, so it’s good from a coaches point of view, but as I’ve said it’s about the consistency to improve and process again.


“Everybody wants to show they can play a part for us going into next season and the challenges that that will bring.”


The men in maroon are a matter of points away from securing third place in the cinch Premiership and after an inconsistent start to the season, performances and results have significantly improved, resulting in various club records being broken.


The boss admits that belief is high in the group right now and praised his players for the way they have bought into the style of play he is trying to implement in Gorgie.


“You get more belief the more you do things and the more success you get, he said. “In the first few months, I had real belief, the coaches had real belief and some of the younger players that I had coached, had real belief.


“Outwith that, you’ve got to earn it, and I think we’ve done that. This season, the players have bought into it and have applied themselves brilliantly. As the season has gone on, we’ve committed more, to a point where we have got real belief, which is why we have got to two semi-finals and are sitting in third with a good points tally.


Naismith admits that his side are fully aware of the threats that Livingston carry as they prepare to welcome the Lions to Tynecastle Park on Saturday.


It’s been a tough season for the West Lothian side, but Naismith insists the league’s bottom side still carry a threat, while acknowledging that this weekend’s fixture is a good opportunity for the Jambos to take another step towards third place.


“The one thing from watching Livingston, yes, they’re struggling at the bottom of the table, but I don’t think they’ve lost hope, any game I’ve watched, their expectation isn’t that they’re going down, the Aberdeen game is the same.


“They have certain players in their team that do carry a threat. At times we’ll have the ball, and we’ll need to break them down, but that has been more normal this season, than it has been in previous seasons.


“We’re comfortable in that setting. We need to be sharp with the ball, turn up and see what the opportunity is for us. If we get the win, it takes us that bit closer to getting third and puts more pressure on the teams below us to keep up their good form and for individuals, they’re playing for a place in the semi-final.”


You can watch Steven's press conference in full on Hearts TV.