First Team

Robbie: derby is all we're thinking about

7th April 2022

Robbie Neilson says his Hearts team are after one outcome this weekend: victory in the Edinburgh derby.

The JTs face Hibs at Tynecastle on Saturday in the final league match before the split -  the first leg of a derby double-header ahead of a semi-final meeting in the pipeline at Hampden next week.
It’s a pivotal run of games ahead for the boys in maroon, and Robbie, a veteran of this fixture, knows all that matters is winning what’s immediately in front of you.
“Believe me; when you go into a derby or play in a derby – you’re not thinking about what you did last week or in the last six months. All you’re thinking about is the derby and winning it,” he told the media in his pre-match press conference.
“You can feel the tension in the air. The spotlight is on the team a little bit more. When you play in a derby you have to win the first header, the first tackle. The physical side takes care of itself. If football does break out in periods, you need to have the composure to go and play.
“Home team. Home crowd. Home stadium. We’re playing well and confident we can get a good result.”
The two derbies played out so far this season have both ended in stalemates, with neither side able to break the deadlock in the two hotly contested clashes.
The manager was hopeful that things would be different this time – with a number of key players expected to be back in contention for selection at the weekend.
“It’ll be a totally different game; different park, different atmosphere,” he added.
“This derby is the most important game. Both the home game and the away match at Easter Road were tight games. Derbies are always 200-miles-an-hour stuff – so we have to be prepared for that.
“We’re starting to get there: we’ve got Mackay-Steven back, Atkinson will be back and now Devlin’s doing a bit of running as well. Nice to see them again: Michael Smith is probably a few weeks away yet, whereas Cammy is ahead of schedule.
“Peter Haring and Andy Halliday are two very experienced midfielders and we’ve got Aaron McEneff and Toby Sibbick who can play there.
“We’re looking good.”

You can catch the manager's full pre derby press conference on Hearts TV.