Gary Mackay: Hearts should now set sights on toppling Rangers

Hearts players celebrate Callum Paterson's goal at Partick - but will the Jambos hold on to their in-demand right-back ahead of Wednesday's transfer deadline? Pic: SNS
Hearts players celebrate Callum Paterson's goal at Partick - but will the Jambos hold on to their in-demand right-back ahead of Wednesday's transfer deadline? Pic: SNS
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I think it’s safe to say most Hearts supporters are a lot more optimistic about the season than we were a few weeks ago.

We’ve bounced back really well from a difficult start to the campaign with three consecutive good results in the league. I was really pleased for Tony Watt to finally get his first goal at Partick because he’s been a really good addition and has shown a great attitude. It was great to see him score so late on, which is a sign that his 
fitness is coming on. The goal will do wonders for his 
confidence.

I was also encouraged to see a couple of positive, like-for-like substitutions at a point when the game was in the balance. The fact we brought on both Jamie Walker and Bjorn Johnsen straight after we lost the equaliser proved we were going all out to win the game. A move like that transmits itself into the mindset of the players and reassures them that we’re still going for the win.

Given that we’ve already played Celtic and Aberdeen and we don’t play Rangers until October, we’ve got a really good run of fixtures coming up when we return to action after the international break. On paper, I see no reason why we can’t look to build up a really good head of steam and get plenty more points on the board.

In our first game back after the break, we’ve got a chance to move ahead of Rangers because they will be underdogs when they go to Celtic Park for the Old Firm game. Either way, something’s got to give there, and Hamilton at home is a winnable game for us, so it would be nice if we could find ourselves in second place at the five-game mark. That would certainly be an impressive turnaround, considering how I felt about our prospects at the start of the season.

My only concern at the 
moment is that we may lose Callum Paterson, either to England or to Celtic, who have plenty money in the 
bank and could probably do with a young, athletic right-back. I think we could cope with losing Callum from a defensive perspective, but he would leave a big void in terms of what he brings as an attacking threat. He’s a player who can definitely make a difference to where we finish this season.