Gary Mackay: It's all set up for Hearts in coming weeks

Saturday's win over Ross County has set us up wonderfully for the next couple of weeks.

Monday, 16th October 2017, 6:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 3:12 am
Kyle Lafferty celebrates Hearts' win over Ross County. Pic: SNS

With other teams above us playing in the Betfred Cup semi-finals this weekend, this is a real chance for us to make up ground and start making our presence felt in the top six.

We’re breathing down the necks of the two teams we play in the next two games, and if we can overtake both St Johnstone and Hibs, that would set us up really well for the Rangers game a week on Saturday. We potentially have a really good spell of games coming up.

It would be a massive psychological boost for Hearts if we could beat St Johnstone on Saturday and go into next week’s Edinburgh derby above Hibs and on the back of consecutive victories.

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Given the upheaval we’ve had to deal with this season, and how well Hibs are perceived to have performed since coming back into the Premiership, I think every Hearts supporter would be thrilled with that scenario.

It won’t be easy, however, because, of the three games we’ll have to play at Murrayfield, the St Johnstone one, in my view, was always likely to be the trickiest. Aberdeen brought a big support last month and Rangers will bring a huge support so the atmosphere takes care of itself in those games, but that will probably not be the case against Saints, who won’t bring a particularly big support. The Hearts players will therefore need to take the initiative and try to get the supporters onside and create a positive atmosphere. Saints have set the level for consistency in the Premiership over the last few years but right now they’re going through a sticky patch. They may be vulnerable after recent results but we also have to be wary of the probability that they will respond like a wounded animal eager to get back on track.

Although the upcoming games will be very testing, we can be heartened by the fact that we are now hard to beat and stronger than we were last season. To go to Ross County, take the lead, get pegged back instantly, take the lead again, then go down to ten men, and hold on for a victory, shows there is clearly now greater resilience in the team under Craig Levein than there was under Ian Cathro.