Grant Holt: Hibs’ priority is face Hearts four times

Grant Holt

Grant Holt

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Sunday’s Scottish Cup clash against Hearts may, at least for the time being, be a one-off, but as much as Hibs striker Grant Holt would dearly love to win it, he wants to again see four 
Edinburgh derbies a season.

Adamant the cup holders aren’t going to give up a trophy it took them 114 years to win without a fight, Holt is equally uncompromising in stating winning the Championship title and with it promotion is by far the greater priority for Neil Lennon’s players.

Holt played in the East Anglian derby for Norwich

Holt played in the East Anglian derby for Norwich

“The cup is magical and obviously we won it last year,” he said. “Would we want to win it again? Yes we would. Would we want to put Hearts out? Of course we would.

“But ultimately we want to make sure we get the four games against them next season and the four games against Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen. That’s our aim, that’s what we are here to do.”

Hibs, of course, go into the match at Tynecastle off the back of a disappointing result against Ayr, a 1-1 draw which trimmed their lead at the top of the table over title rivals 
Dundee United to six points.

Holt, however, insisted the thought of this upcoming trip to Gorgie wasn’t behind a poor performance, Jason 
Cummings’ 15th goal of the season salvaging a point, although the veteran hitman went close to winning the game with a header which was taken off the Ayr line.

He said: “The derby is a game we weren’t thinking about. The league games are our bread and butter and that is what we are all about and what we want to achieve.

“You could see the way Fraser Fyvie was clattering into tackles, myself, Darren McGregor, we concern ourselves with each game, week by week, and fair play to Ayr, they came, got their early goal and defended as well as they could and I’m guessing they’d be gutted not to have won all three points.

“However, we have a team that doesn’t know when it’s beaten. We are going to keep coming at you and doing what we can and we always know that when Jason is about he can score.

“We were in on Monday and Tuesday and debriefed about what went wrong against Ayr and now we are focusing on the derby.”

An influx of nine new 
players and impressive wins over Rangers and Motherwell have probably raised expectations as far as Ian Cathro’s side are concerned and 35-year-old Holt believes they go into Sunday’s fifth round match under pressure as firm favourites.

He said: “I have been in loads of derbies and they take care of themselves. You don’t need anything to get you up for them.

“If you don’t thrive in the derby atmosphere you shouldn’t be playing football. That’s the easy answer.

“Nobody should ever have to get you up for a derby. You want your club to win and you should realise what it means to the spectators.

“It’s a game that’s a free shot. We will enjoy it for what it is and we’ll go there and want to win as we always want to do in every single game.”

“We know we are as good as anyone in the Premier League when we are on it. We are better than most teams in the Championship – but it is up to us to prove that and win it – so we can go and test ourselves week in, week out next year.

“Our main priority will be to get the game out of the way and enjoy it for what it is and get the win we know we can get by going there and matching them and then we worry about our main concern, which is the league the week after.”

Holt, who once scored a hat-trick in the Norwich-Ipswich derby and is adored by Canaries fans for his derby exploits, went on: “It doesn’t matter if it is an Edinburgh derby, a Glasgow derby, Norwich v Ipswich – I’ve also played in Bury against Rochdale – and they are all as heated as each other.

“It doesn’t really matter where it is, you don’t want to get beat and let your fans down. And they will be exactly the same, they won’t to let Hibs beat them.

“The good thing is the 
pressure is all on them. We are only a Championship team, supposedly – well that’s what I keep hearing – so we will see what happens.

“We are the Championship team and they are supposedly better than us and in a bigger league, so we will see how they like the pressure.”

Lennon watched Hearts demolish Rangers in person and admitted to being impressed, but Holt insisted: “I watched the game and I saw a bad Rangers team, to be honest, a team that couldn’t keep the ball and move it but, to be fair to Hearts, they scored the goals and played well. We will go there knowing how good we can be. We didn’t show that against Ayr and if somebody from Hearts was watching it they won’t have learned anything about us from that game.”

And Holt retains full faith in his team-mates, saying: “You could look at our squad on Saturday and look at our bench and pick any single one of those players to play against Hearts and I don’t think any one of them would let you down in a derby.”