First Team

Start is key

22nd February 2018

Craig Levein looking for his players to start Saturday's match against Rangers well so they can build up momentum at Ibrox.

Craig Levein wants his players to hit the ground running when they take on Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday.

The Jambos head west at the weekend looking to build on a record that stands at one defeat in 16 games, and the manager knows that fixtures don’t come much tougher than a trip to Glasgow.

He’s watched enough of the Gers’ recent games to be able to build a gameplan, however, and hopes that the men in maroon start the game well in order to build up momentum.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Craig said: “We need to play well, whether it quiets the crowd or not. The important thing for me is us starting the game properly.

“We didn’t start particularly well last week at Ross County and it took a while for us to get any sort of momentum at all.

“Every time you play Rangers at Ibrox you need to play well and start the game well. We need to make sure that we don’t do anything silly in the early part of the match and give Rangers reason to feel hopeful.

“It always is (a big test). Away to Rangers is one of the hardest fixtures in the league. We’re aware of that.

“I’m hopeful that we can do enough to score through there. Defensively we’ve been fairly good. We’ve managed to be very consistent defensively.

“We need to be good on both of these things. We need to stop Rangers from scoring and we need to take advantage of any opportunities that come our way.

“Every time we go to Ibrox, no matter how Rangers are, it’s obviously a big challenge.

“I was at the game last week, the Hamilton match, and saw some reasons to be fearful for their attacking play and some reasons to feel quite good about how we can possibly score.

“They’re certainly a threat going forward, there’s no doubt about that.

While Hearts will be without long-term absentees Arnaud Djoum and Jamie, Brandon, Craig hopes to be able to call upon the services of Steven Naismith.

“I’m hoping Steven Naismith will be fit to be involved,” he said. “He’s had a sort of a lingering hamstring problem. We’re just at that point where I think he might be all right but we’ll have to wait and see.

“He’s training today and tomorrow.”

Craig's press conference is available to watch in full on HeartsTV.