HEARTS need to score first at Anfield on Thursday to have a realistic chance of eliminating Liverpool and progressing to the group phase of the Europa League.
That was the message today from the Tynecastle club’s manager, John McGlynn, as he prepares for the toughest assignment of his managerial career to date.
An own goal by Andy Webster handed Liverpool a 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Europa League play-off tie in Edinburgh last week, ensuring Hearts have a mammoth task to overhaul the deficit on Merseyside. McGlynn explained that they cannot allow themselves to fall 2-0 behind on aggregate because that would virtually put the tie out of reach.
“I would think we need to get the first goal,” he told the Evening News. “If we lose the first goal we’ve got to score two, so I think we need to score first. They aren’t likely to score and then put the tools down and let us back into it. However, it doesn’t mean we need to score in the first minute of the game. We have to be patient.
“Playing Liverpool at Anfield is a formidable task but we don’t feel it’s impossible. We go there trying to do a similar job as we did last Thursday and hope the wee edge goes in our favour rather than theirs.”
McGlynn stressed that the Hearts players are in confident mood ahead of the trip to England, encouraged by their unbeaten domestic record so far this season. “There’s been a lot of confidence in training and it was a good battling performance against Aberdeen,” continued McGlynn. “The team showed a lot of character, which is very important. Maybe we’d have lost that game in another season but the boys stuck to their task and I have to praise them for that.”
Marius Zaliukas remains in the doubtful category due to a dead leg and McGlynn said he will look to steer his players through the next two games against Liverpool and Dundee before letting them recuperate during next week’s
“We go to Liverpool and we’ll just need to assess our injury situation and the fitness of the lads. We’ll then pick the best team available. After that we’ll need to assess how much damage has been done. There is an international break coming up so that gives us a chance to recharge the batteries. We’ve got what we’ve got and we’ll just need to get on with it.”