Alex Cochrane insists Celtic are opponent Hearts want right now as defender reveals dressing room discussions

Alex Cochrane insists the visit of Celtic is exactly what the Hearts players want at this point in the season as they remain determined to turn around their failing form.

Robbie Neilson’s side welcome the reigning champions to the Capital on Saturday. A daunting task in any situation, it’s one made harder by the poor form and injury crisis enveloping the Tynecastle club.

Hearts are on a run of five games without a victory and have conceded 16 goals as a number of fitness problems have robbed them of many of their strongest defenders.

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But Cochrane, one of the few first-choice players fit for the clash on Sky Sports, believes it’s the type of encounter required to focus the mind.

Alex Cochrane missed a costly chance against Aberdeen in Hearts' 2-0 defeat last weekend. Picture: SNS

“This is the kind of game we wanted – a 12.30 kick off on TV. Celtic come to town, we know they're going to be at it, the crowd are going to be at it, and we need to produce as well,” he said.

"It's a challenge that you look forward to. We know the threat that Celtic have got going forward, so we need to be on our A-game. Whoever plays in the back four or defensively, we know as a team we've got that structure to defend and that's the way we have to go.”

The Gorgie Road outfit lost 2-0 to Aberdeen last time out but things could have been different had they taken one of a few good chances – including a big miss from Cochrane himself – before the Dons took the lead. He revealed the profligacy in front of goal has been something the players have discussed among themselves as they seek to return to winning ways.

"We sat down and spoke about it,” he said. We're just in a period right now where the chances aren't going for us. I was guilty of it at the weekend, but we still need to keep creating chances. If we do that then we'll start to score. With Lawrence Shankland, Stephen Humphrys, Barrie McKay, we've got players who can create those chances and put them away.

“We've got a squad that's tight together and we will get through that sticky period. We trust in what the gaffer says to us and how we go about it over the weekend.”

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