First team

Naismith: Control Key at Hampden

03 November 2023

Steven Naismith says another controlled performance can help Hearts get past Rangers and into the Viaplay Cup final.


The Glasgow side stand between the Jambos and another shot at silverware when the sides meet at Hampden on Sunday.


Hearts showed patience to break down a stubborn Livingston team at Tynecastle on Wednesday night, with the Head Coach aware that another disciplined performance will be required at the national stadium.


“A lot of the time, it’s small margins that define these types of games,” he told the media ahead of the game.


“We’re in the fortunate position that there’s a few in the squad that have been involved in semi-finals and finals. The collective story for Hearts has been the hard luck story.


“We’ve been so close and not made it. In my time at the club, we’ve consistently made finals but yet to have won. The demand’s got to be that we give ourselves the best chance. Our last few performances have been good.


“The confidence is there. It’s about sticking to what we want to do, in and out of possession, to give ourselves that best chance. We go into this with most people not giving us a chance, so we have to use that as motivation.


“It starts with confidence and belief, which I think we’ve got. Then you have to focus for the full game. We’ve been in games at about 90%, then there’s that ten percent where you lose focus and that’s what costs you.


“Often it’s single moments that define games. We’ve got a good group that have shown up in the last few matches. It’s about continuing that on Sunday.”


There’s little news to report on the squad front, with Naismith revealing that Japanese forward Kyosuke Tagawa has returned to full training after a period out, whilst on-loan Rangers midfielder Alex Lowry will be ineligible for selection against his parent club.


“There’s not much to say,” he added.


“Kyosuke’s come back in for full training, he’s been building up for a while now so he’s the only one. Alex Lowry was assessed yesterday, and again today, but obviously he won’t be available for Hampden.”