Hearts head coach braced for four-way battle for second spot

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson believes his team currently sit in a league within a league in the Ladbrokes Premiership
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson believes his team currently sit in a league within a league in the Ladbrokes Premiership
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Hearts are readying themselves for a four-way winter battle for second place in the Scottish Premiership.

Head coach Robbie Neilson warned today that the intense fight will continue for weeks as Rangers, Hearts, Aberdeen and St Johnstone all try to get closer to leaders Celtic. Just one point separates the four teams in question, while the champions are already nine clear at the summit and have a game in hand. Hearts are firmly in the mix for second place and sit just one point behind Rangers, who moved into that position by beating Kilmarnock at the weekend. Neilson acknowledged that Hearts are involved in a league within a league and predicted that will remain the case for some time yet.

“I think it is like that. You always hope you can pull away but I think it’s going to be like that for a while. Everyone can beat each other in this league and take points off each other,” he told the Evening News. “Look at Hamilton last week. They beat Aberdeen in midweek and then lose to Dundee on the same pitch. Because there are only 12 teams, everyone can beat each other.

“Our little bit is like a league within a league but when you go away to places like Inverness, it’s difficult. Celtic drew 2-2 in Inverness and we drew 3-3. The teams are all very well organised so it’s going to be a tight league for a long time. The target for us is to win on Saturday against St Johnstone. If we do that, the target is then to win the next game after that. We don’t want to project too far. We will try to get our best team out on Saturday and go from there because the league is so tight at the moment.”