DANNY LENNON today warned Hearts that St Mirren will arrive at Tynecastle eager to silence their critics and win for the first time this season.
The Paisley club are under pressure following a dismal start to the campaign and Lennon has challenged his players to show their true character today.
Hearts must win to close in on St Mirren at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership, where the gap between the teams is nine points ahead of kick-off this afternoon. The Edinburgh club have better form so far, having amassed eight points compared with St Mirren’s two. However, Lennon’s team have a game in hand and produced an encouraging display in their 1-1 draw with Aberdeen on Monday.
“Right now it is all about character for us, and my character and that of the players has been questioned,” said Lennon. “I believe we have character in abundance and I trust my players. It has been said that lean times in football can be character-building exercises, but I would say that our character has been revealed.
“I’m a fighter, as are our players, and we want to put the record straight with positive results and performances. I believe that we are capable of that and showed it on Monday night, but we must build on that and show it again at Tynecastle.”
Lennon admitted he will not feel any sympathy for the difficulties faced by his Hearts counterpart, Gary Locke. “Hearts have been handed a tough task this season as they try to claw their way back from a 15-point deficit and a signing embargo, but any sympathy I have for Gary Locke and his staff will be put away until after tomorrow’s game.
“Hearts have quite a few talented youngsters, as we do, but it just shows that when you give youth an opportunity they can go out there and perform. For me, the young players at both Hearts and St Mirren haven’t looked out of place in this league.”
St Mirren’s manager has gone back to basics in an attempt to halt the disappointing sequence of results which leaves his team second bottom of the league. “Things haven’t been working for us much so far this season so we made the decision to strip everything back and get back to the basics,” he said.
“There is no doubt we needed a fresh approach so, with that and freshening up the starting eleven, I felt that is what we needed for the spark that would ignite our season.
“We were very pleased with the performance on Monday as we took better care of the little things which I felt gave us a better platform to compete for points.
“We scored against a team that hadn’t conceded in five games and we looked capable of winning the game.
“We also had the fans with us, which is so important, so I feel as if Monday night has started something for us that we’ll look to build upon.
“It was so important that we had the fans with us the other night and, to be fair, they have been absolutely fantastic for us this season.
“We now want to show how much their support means to us.
“I believe that if you look at the character, determination, grit and hunger that we showed on Monday, that you can see that the fans appreciated seeing that effort and when they do they can be very forgiving.”
In order to cope with demand, Hearts are opening sections of the Roseburn Stand today for home fans with the Tynecastle ticket office open from 9am until kick-off.