First Team

Robbie: Hearts looking at bigger picture

11th February 2022

Robbie Neilson says his team are fully focused on the “bigger picture”, as Hearts gear up for the next step of our Scottish Cup journey against Livingston.

The Jam Tarts have been left frustrated recently by defeats to Rangers and Dundee, but an exciting clash awaits as we welcome the Livi Lions to Tynecastle Park tomorrow with a quarter final spot within tantalising reach.
With a few days under the belt now to reflect, the manager said that whilst he was unhappy with recent results - there’s still plenty to be satisfied with as Hearts look to round off a condensed fixture schedule following the winter break.
“This is a big time for us. We went into the winter break five points clear. When we came back, we spoke about how we had a hectic period of six league matches and a cup game to get through. We’ve since taken that gap from five to ten points and got through the next round of the cup,” he told the media in his pre-match press conference.
“Even with a dip in form, we’ve still managed to progress from where we were at the start of that break. We knew it was going to be difficult, everyone’s found it difficult apart from the Old Firm who can rotate their squads freely. We’re off the back of four midweek games on the bounce so there were always going to be ups and downs, but we’ve still maintained that lead.
“Everyone’s going to have bumps along the way, that’s football. The objective from these eight games was to get through in the cup and increase our lead. We’ve had two results we’re not happy with, but we need to look at the bigger picture and go: ‘Alright we’re still progressing – can we maintain and improve that gap as well?
“Last two games haven’t been good enough, but we can put it right on Saturday.”
Scottish Cup weekends in Gorgie always carry a special buzz, and Robbie reckons that a cup run would be the next step forward in Hearts’ development and also compliment a strong league campaign so far.
“I’ve said before: when you’re at Hearts you need to try and win every game, be it in the league or Scottish Cup. It’s been a while since Hearts have won it but we want to try and take that next step. We were a few kicks away from winning it two years ago so we need to try and get as far as we can but first and foremost it starts tomorrow,” he added.
“There’s no point in looking four or five games down the line, we need to win tomorrow. It’s a tough draw but it’s at home. The key thing when you go into the hat is that you want to be drawn at Tynecastle and give yourself the best chance of going through – and that’s what we’re looking to do tomorrow.”
And finally, the manager gave a positive medical report on the squad – saying that Craig Halkett remains the only absentee as the team look to welcome Michael Smith back into the fold on Saturday.
“Delighted to get him back, I think we’ve missed him the last couple of weeks. Squad’s looking all fine otherwise; just waiting to get Halkett back.
“Touchwood it stays like that. Start of the season we had everyone pretty fit but over the last few weeks we lost a number of key players so hopefully we can get through this and kick on for the rest of the season.
 You can catch Robbie's full press conference on Hearts TV. Click HERE to view it.