First team

Naismith: Ready for Glasgow

03 May 2024

Steven Naismith says Hearts can draw confidence from previous wins over Celtic as the Jambos prepare for a trip to Parkhead.


The Jambos return to the east end of Glasgow with two victories over Brendan Rodgers’ side already under the belt this season.


Goals from Lawrence Shankland and Stephen Kingsley secured the points in December’s visit to Celtic Park, which sparked a sizzling 12-game unbeaten run.


With Celtic in a narrow race for the cinch Premiership title, the boss reckons Hearts can harness these circumstances and turn it in their favour.


“It was good one. Having those results against Celtic in the past builds confidence,” he told the media ahead of the game.


“We’ve went on to build confidence. Tomorrow will be slightly different because of the stage of the season we’re at. The outcome of these games have big impacts.


“I’m sure with Celtic being in pole position for the title, they’ll want to come and tick this game off. One slip in a title race can cost you. When you play the Old Firm, you’ve got to be comfortable with understanding the whole game.


“You need to understand the dynamic of the crowd and how you can effect that. Your defensive actions have to be good because you’re going to have to defend at times. But when you have possession, you need to be able to go and give a bit back because you can’t afford to give it away.


“If you do that right, you can turn the home crowd in your favour and upset things in your favour.”


There was further positive squad news to share, with several players upping their recovery and return to action


Aussie wing-back Nathaniel Atkinson is likely to be in contention for Saturday, whilst Liam Boyce and Craig Halkett continue to make forward strides from long-term lay-offs.


“We’re looking good,” added Naismith.


“Natty Atkinson is back in from last week. The longer-term ones haven’t changed but they’re the only ones. Boycie’s is slightly ahead of Halks in terms of where they’re at, but if the opportunity to play presents itself, they’ll get the chance.


“What we’re not going to do is force them, because we want them at 100% going into pre-season. We’re optimistic on them both but there’s no pressure whatsoever.”