Craig Levein has advised Hearts to find enough mental resolve to get through four more away matches and stay in touch with the Ladbrokes Premiership’s pace-setters.
The Edinburgh club visit Hamilton tomorrow before trips to Partick Thistle, Dundee and Ross County. They then embark upon 10 out of 12 games in Edinburgh, eight of which are at the redeveloped Tynecastle Park.
Levein wants to ensure his team stay mentally resilient and strong meantime while their away run continues. His plan is to then make the most of an unprecedented run of home games during October, November and December.
Hearts have played five Premiership matches so far, all away from home except last weekend’s goalless draw with Aberdeen at Murrayfield. They currently sit eighth in the league table with five points.
“We want to win the game against Hamilton. We want to keep chipping away, hang in there and get into a position where we’ve got a chance to finish with a flourish,” said the manager. It’s an unusual season. It’s not an easy set of circumstances to deal with. We have to develop a different mindset to normal.
“What is quite good for us is that Murrayfield went well. Everything about the game was positive. The experience was positive and the players felt quite good about the environment.
“The supporters turned out in their numbers so there is not a fear of going back to Murrayfield. Maybe next time we will feel a little bit more comfortable.
“It’s recognising what we need to do just now. It’s maybe not going to be pretty at times, but we just have to compete and fight and try to win games. That’s the thing that is probably most important.”
Levein is eager for Hearts to win as many games on the road as possible, rather than merely settle for draws. “We can’t rely on draws away from home and assume that we are going to win all our home games. We can’t do that,” he stressed.
“That would be a silly thing to do, to think about just picking up a point here and there. One game has the same value as three draws so we need to try to win games.”
Right-back Michael Smith has recovered from illness to take his place in the Hearts squad for tomorrow. Prince Buaben and Krystian Nowak are also available, as is on loan-Manchester City left-back Ashley Smith-Brown. Michael is fine, Prince is back, Ash played an hour on Tuesday. Nowak has had a niggle but should be okay. Rory Currie had a groin strain and Saturday might be too soon for him but we’ll see. It’s nothing major.”