DALE CARRICK would love Hearts to silence their critics by dumping Hibs out of the League Cup tomorrow night.
However, the young striker isn’t just focusing on putting one over on their city rivals – he wants victory at Easter Road as a springboard to Hearts’ league season.
The Edinburgh sides meet in the quarter-finals of the League Cup and, with Hearts in dire straits in the league right now, Carrick knows victory would give the Tynecastle players a much-needed boost.
Gary Locke’s young Hearts side lost 2-0 to Kilmarnock at the weekend and it’s clear the squad’s confidence is low right now.
Docked 15 points at the start of the league campaign after entering administration, the Jambos began eating into that deficit with early wins over Hibs and Aberdeen but recent results have pushed them back 15 points behind St Mirren, who are currently second bottom of the Premiership table.
Carrick reckons that Hearts need to go back to the drawing board in a bid to recapture the form and mindset which served them well in the opening weeks.
And he says that a win over Hibs would be an “unbelievable boost” for the Jambos in their quest to beat the drop to the Championship next season.
Carrick said: “It’s really a case of us going back to the drawing board now.
“It seems like we are going two steps forward and then three steps back. We’ve slipped a little bit lately and I think it just magnifies the situation that we are in and makes it all seem a little more real.
“We’re desperately trying to claw these points back, but it’s difficult right now.
“The game tomorrow is huge for both sides and we don’t need any extra motivation. It’s just a case of us working hard and hopefully that will help us get the right result tomorrow night.
“I would love to give the fans everything that I could – and it would be a great game for us to bounce back in.
“To beat Hibs would be a great morale booster and, if we can get a result against them tomorrow night, then hopefully it will spur us on in the league.
“It would be an unbelievable boost if we could beat Hibs. It would give our confidence a real lift and then hopefully we could transfer that into the league.”
Carrick conceded that it was a major blow for his side to drop three points to Killie, the side which, until Saturday night at least, had been the team nearest them in the Premiership table.
Killie’s three points enabled them to leapfrog St Mirren into tenth spot and stretch their gap over Hearts to 16 points.
“It was so disappointing to lose,” Carrick continued, “not only because we weren’t happy with our performance but also because Kilmarnock were, at that point, the closest team to us in terms of points.
“We keep trying to get the results but it was another disappointing day for us. We just don’t seem to be able to get it going right now.
“The fans have been great this season and, right from the first whistle on Saturday, they were behind us again. I think they sang throughout the whole game and it is brilliant that they are there to keep us going.
“We’re just trying to use their support to help push us through this difficult spell that we’re in right now.
“In the dressing-room after the game we were all gutted, obviously. But we know that we need to keep our heads high and keep pushing.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint. It is always going to be gutting when you lose but there’s a lot riding on it this season.
“We were a bit up and down throughout the match. I thought that we played well in spells and then were poor, as well as being a bit unlucky.”
While everyone on the outside seems to be talking about the immense pressure that the squad of young Hearts players is under as a result of the current situation, Carrick insists that they have been taking each development in their stride.
“There’s pressure in football anyway,” he assessed. “There’s pressure going into every game and you’ve just got to take each match as it comes.
“We know that if we work hard and start to get the right results again that the pressure will ease off a bit. But at the moment, we’ve got to use that pressure to drive us on.”