MARIUS ZALIUKAS says Hearts will be ready and waiting if Celtic take their foot off the gas in the Scottish Premier League this season.
The Tynecastle side take on Kilmarnock at home today and Zaliukas is determined to bag all three points and keep up the pressure on the teams above them.
Neil Lennon’s men, currently two points behind leaders Motherwell and one adrift of Hibs, were tipped to run away with the title this season in the absence of Rangers but have not had things all their own way in recent weeks.
Defeat to St Johnstone and draws against Ross County and Hibs have shown some chinks in the Hoops’ armour and Zaliukas is keen to cash in.
Following the clash with Killie, Hearts face Celtic at Parkhead next Sunday and Zaliukas wants to go into that match on a high.
He said: “Of course they can be got at. They drew with Ross County and Hibs and lost to St Johnstone.
“That obviously shows they are a wee bit relaxed. Every team who plays Celtic wants to win.
“I think all teams are ready if Celtic take their foot off the gas. We want to get every point.
“When everyone was saying in the summer that Celtic were going to run away with the league, I didn’t think that. I always thought it was going to be tough for them and not easy because everyone is fighting for second place.
“At no point have we thought about Celtic running away with it, we have been focusing on Hearts and we want to get the best position we can.”
Having defeated Dundee United in some style last weekend and then seen off the challenge of Livingston in the Scottish Communities League Cup in midweek, the Jambos must now build on those two victories if they are serious about challenging.
And the importance of getting another three points on the board isn’t lost on the Lithuanian.
He continued: “Every point in the league is important because the league is so tight right now – it will probably be tight until the end of the season.
“Celtic are not playing their strongest side in every game because they are saving players for the Champions League.
“That gives other teams a boost and everyone wants to take points off them. Kilmarnock are playing well and they want to play the ball on the ground which we also do.
“We can’t think about Celtic yet – we must focus on the Kilmarnock game first. We just want to do the job right.
“The win over Dundee United wasn’t as easy as the scoreline suggests.
“It was a tough game and everyone worked hard after the disappointment of losing to St Mirren.
“The gaffer spoke after that game and we used that as motivation for the Dundee United game.
“Of course we want to make it two league wins in a row especially with the game at home.
“We need to work on our finishing and the results will come.”
The defender’s error gave away an equaliser to Livingston just before the hour at Tynecastle but he recovered to score two of his own to send Hearts through to the last eight.
And he admitted that he was relieved to see his side safely progress after his mistake.
“I was just lucky,” he admitted. “Everyone was happy we did the job and to get through to the quarter-finals was the main target. It feels good because obviously I was frustrated giving them the goal and was down inside.
“But it was the inspiration for me to keep on going and make up for the mistake.”