Don Cowie will ignore lingering rib pain to face Hibs tonight, but the Hearts midfielder expects another bruising affair between the Edinburgh rivals at Easter Road.
The Scottish Cup fifth-round tie is being replayed after a 0-0 draw at Tynecastle ten days ago. Cowie suffered severely bruised ribs in that encounter after a challenge from Hibs defender Darren McGregor.
He sat out Saturday’s Premiership draw with Inverness but is back in Hearts’ squad this evening and is predicting another battle.
“I was involved in training on Monday for the first time. It was my ribs. He is a big lad that ran into me,” said the 34-year-old.
“He knocked me really and I was struggling last week but, as each day goes by, I am getting better. It’s been sore. There have been a few sneezes and things like that that have not been pleasant.
“I did fear it was cracked but it wasn’t. Whether it’s bruised or cracked there’s nothing you can do except get on with it.”
Asked about the collision with McGregor and whether it was accidental or not, Cowie remained coy. “You can decide. He got booked. Did he apologise? I don’t think he thought he did much wrong. It was just one of those coming together things,” he said.
“Hibs probably played the conditions better than we did in the first game. They had big Grant Holt up front, who is experienced. He knows what he’s doing.
“He can win fouls but we stood up to it. We probably had the clearer chances but were unable to take them.
“By all accounts, their surface is a lot better than ours so hopefully that will enable us to play more football. At the end of the day, it’s going to be a battle, no matter what.
“No matter the game, the first 20 minutes are a battle. You try and win that battle and then the football comes out. It may take sixty minutes for that to happen tonight, we just don’t know.
“What is important is we stand up to it and, when we get the chances to show our ability and our quality, we make the most of it.
“Hibs have got some very good footballers as well but sometimes things dictate the way you play a game. They’ve got players in midfield like [John] McGinn and [Fraser] Fyvie, who want to get the ball down and pass it. They are a good footballing team and hopefully we will see a bit more of that.”
Hibs are the Scottish Cup holders after last season’s dramatic win over Rangers in the final ended a 114-year wait for the trophy. They eliminated Hearts at the same stage of last year’s competition, again after a replay.
Cowie admitted it was difficult watching the other side of Edinburgh celebrate, although he respects Hibs for what they achieved last season.
“It’s tough but, at the same time, you’ve got to appreciate what they achieved. They got to two cup finals and they were playing in the Championship at the time. To do that was a great achievement,” said the former Scotland internationalist.
“They managed to win one of the trophies and took many Premiership scalps along the way. You have to give them a lot of respect for what they’ve done.
“It’s tough because you want it to be you that’s winning trophies but, at the same time, it gives you that motivation. You see the celebrations in the city and that’s something that we’ve got to strive for.”