Robbie Neilson believes coming out on top in midfield will be key to taking all three points in Saturday’s New Year’s derby against Hibs.
The Hibees visit Tynecastle this weekend off the back of an impressive win over Rangers, while the Jambos extended their lead at the top of the table to 15 points after beating Livingston in front of 7,500 Hearts fans at the Energy Assets Arena last week.
With much discussion about the form both teams find themselves in, the head coach thinks the midfield will have a major say in who emerges victorious in the first derby of 2015.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Robbie said: “Hibs have got some good, experienced players in midfield.
“They’ve got guys who have been there a few years and they’ve brought in a few guys as well so it’s quite a strong department for them, but we’ve got a very strong midfield as well with some experienced players.
“I think whoever comes out on top of that battle will probably win the game.”
While derbies can be played out at a frantic pace, Robbie doesn’t think either side will abandon their footballing philosophies and revealed that his team are preparing for the much-anticipated game the same as they have every other match.
“I don’t feel a difference amongst the guys,” he said. “We just train as we normally do. We work hard and do things right.
“As the week goes on then the build-up will start to intensify but it’s important that we keep doing the same things we’ve done all season. It’s done well for us so far and we need to keep doing that.
“You’ve got to be disciplined in the way you approach the game, and make sure that we try and do the things that we work on. We always want to pass the ball and we’ll still try and do that. Hibs are trying to do that as well.
“It should be an entertaining game. The pressure can sometimes get to players and they worry about making mistakes, but its our job to try and take that away from them and make sure that there’s a freedom to go and pass the ball. If they make mistakes they mistakes, so be it. We just need to deal with it."
Robbie’s press conference is available to watch in full now on HeartsTV.