HEARTS head coach Robbie Neilson has not mentioned Celtic’s 7-0 Scottish Cup win to his players because he knows they are of a different mindset to last season.
A demoralising day in the Scottish Cup 12 months ago saw the Glasgow club demolish Hearts at Tynecastle, but Neilson is confident there will be no repeat when the teams meet this Sunday.
The playing squad has been overhauled and the management team changed since Hearts emerged from administration in May. Neilson, along with his assistant Stevie Crawford and director of football Craig Levein, has taken the Edinburgh club to the top of the Scottish Championship, where they are unbeaten and have a nine-point lead over second-placed Rangers.
Memories of last year’s capitulation against Celtic in the cup will still be in the minds of those who were involved.
However, Neilson feels his group are capable of matching the Scottish champions in this weekend’s fourth-round tie.
“You want to play Celtic when you are confident and we are under no illusions that they are a good team,” he said today. “It is going to be hard.
“They are all must win games at Celtic and, coming to Tynecastle, they will be desperate to win it. We will put out our strongest team possible and the fittest squad that we have got. This match is not like the Petrofac or the League Cup, when we put youngsters in and made a few changes. We will go strong and try and win the game.”
On last year’s 7-0 game, he continued: “It has not been mentioned. It is a different regime, different team and different group of players. That was a difficult day for Hearts last season and I am sure the players that were involved will have learned a lot from it.
“The players will realise the kind of opposition that they are up against come Sunday. Things have changed at this club and there is a different mentality about the place now.”