'Biggest game of the season': Journalists' predictions for Ross County v Hearts
Our online team try to predict the correct result from Hearts' trip to the Highlands.
It's very tempting to pick a Hearts victory. The deadwood at the club is being cleared out, new players are finally coming in and manager Daniel Stendel has had enough time to impart his ideas on the underachieving squad. Despite their club being five points adrift at the bottom of the table, morale among the support is probably the highest it's been since the Betfred Cup victory over Aberdeen in September. However, I'm going to apply the brakes just a little bit with regards to this one. Potentially without the services of Michael Smith, Aaron Hickey and Uche Ikpeazu to go along with Peter Haring, there are still a number of holes in this Hearts side. It also remains to be seen whether new signing Donis Avdijaj, having played just 239 minutes this season, is ready to contribute right away. Prediction: Draw
This is Hearts' biggest game of the season and, looking at the table, there'll be plenty of more games to be given that billing. Daniel Stendel's side cannot allow themselves to be cut further adrift at the bottom. Ross County will see this as an opportunity to get the three points which would all but ensure they are not bottom come the end of the campaign. Following the confident-boosting 5-0 win over Airdrieonians, Hearts make a step up or three in level. It is at the point where points need to be won, no matter what it takes. The injuries to Smith and Hickey are concerning, especially with Sean Clare suspended, but the hope will be that they are able to take advantage of a defence which has been more open than their own. Prediction: Hearts win
We all know how important this match is for Hearts. While the win over Airdrie was a step in the right direction, County are a couple of levels above the Diamonds and can be a tricky midweek host. I do think Hearts are getting better under Stendel, but I’ve not seen enough to nail my colours totally to their mast here. Prediction: 1-1 draw.
Hearts, in their renewed state of cautious optimism after promising displays against Aberdeen and Airdrieonians, could hardly pick a more favourable opponent to resume their league campaign against than a Ross County side who have been struggling for several months and are reeling from a Scottish Cup defeat against Ayr United. There is serious pressure on Daniel Stendel’s side to come away with a victory, but with confidence and key players returning, they look equipped to do so at a venue where they are unbeaten in their last six visits. Prediction: Hearts win
The green shoots of the Daniel Stendel-led recovery at Tynecastle appeared for the first time at the weekend as Hearts comprehensively dismantles Airdrie. With this trip to Dingwall they come up against a Ross County side eager to fight back after a limp cup exit to lower league opposition. The Staggies are decent on their own turf and while Hearts have improved, this is a potentially sticky match - and Hearts have more than a few players missing which could prove pivotal. Prediction: Score draw