First Team

Neil: No time to relax

5th January 2015

Goalkeeper reveals he will not allow team-mates to slack off in title quest following derby draw.

Neil Alexander was taking nothing for granted despite Hearts maintaining their unbeaten run in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Hibs at Tynecastle.

Although the draw allowed Rangers to close the gap between the sides slightly to 13 points, the former Ibrox keeper insisted that he wasn’t interested in allowing the team to drop many more points.

“Until it’s mathematically impossible for anyone to catch us we’ll keep battling every week,” said the goalkeeper. “If we drop points here or there it gives other teams a bit of momentum and a bit of confidence and we can’t let that happen.

“We can make this league quite comfortable and enjoyable until the end of the season, or we can make it uneasy and panicky for the fans as well as the players. So obviously we want to just keep getting points and hopefully win the league sooner rather than later, but we also can’t allow ourselves to look too far ahead.”

The summer signing from Crystal Palace also refused to be drawn on the prospect of managing to go the entire season unbeaten - the team having reached 19 out of 36 so far - and pressed the idea that the team had a long way to go before they could start dreaming of that, if they didn’t start to play more like themselves soon.

“We’re thinking game to game. If we won the league unbeaten, it would be an unbelievable achievement, but we actually have to continue working hard to achieve it, so it’s one game at a time,” Alexander stated.

“In recent weeks we’ve not been playing as well as we would have liked, but we’ve still picked up wins and clean sheets. That’s the mark of a title-winning team, so it’s important to keep that run going.

“We’ve played well and we’ve not played well, but we’re still winning games. That’s what wins leagues. I’ve been there before. We’re not getting carried away – we know there’s a long, long way to go – but if we remain unbeaten for the foreseeable future then it gives us a really good chance of winning the league.

“We have a big game next week against Dumbarton: if we can win that we then move on to the next game. We go into every game looking to win, without getting carried away. We don’t want to get beaten. We have a great team spirit, the boys are all in it together, we give 110 per cent. You gather a bit of momentum on the way and we’ve done that.”