Frankie Kent admits PAOK Salonika won't fancy a boisterous Tynecastle - but Hearts have other priorities first

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Defender admits he came to Scotland for European nights like Thursday

The debris of a successful evening is still visible around Tynecastle Park following Hearts’ captivating European win against Rosenborg. PAOK Salonika, the Edinburgh club’s next opponents in the Europa Conference League play-off, won’t relish the atmosphere there next Thursday, but other priorities must be attended to first.

Partick Thistle’s Viaplay Cup visit on Sunday is sandwiched in between two massive ties against continental opponents. On paper, that looks the easier of three successive home matches but Hearts cannot afford to become complacent. Domestic business always takes precedence.

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When the Greeks get round to analysing footage of how Hearts dismantled Rosenborg to recover from a 3-1 aggregate deficit, the part played by the crowd will certainly strike them. The Riccarton squad know PAOK won’t fancy the prospect of being the opposition in the middle of one almighty Gorgie rumpus.

“No, they won’t,” said defender Frankie Kent. “With the crowd like that and the support we have, I think most teams wouldn’t want to come here. We need to use that to our advantage. We have them at home first. So it’s focus on Sunday and then on to another big game at Tynecastle on Thursday.

“Coming down from the high of Rosenborg will be natural. We will stay on top of stuff, cool down and get ourselves ready. We know we have a job to do and we have a professional group. We won’t think about PAOK because it’s on to Sunday now. We take the positives from Thursday night, get the emotion done and look to Sunday.”

Euphoria like Thursday’s is precisely why Kent left Peterborough United for Hearts during the summer. He suffered the devastation of play-off defeat in his final game in England when Peterborough surrendered a 4-0 first-leg advantage to lose on penalties against Sheffield Wednesday. By then, the move to Edinburgh was already in motion.

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“The game at Hillsborough didn’t go our way. I was on the away side that time but now I’m on the other side. It was a similar atmosphere. These are the sort of nights I came up here for,” said the player, one of many standout Hearts performers against the Norwegians.

Frankie Kent is revelling in his new life with Hearts after Thursday's European win. Pic: SNSFrankie Kent is revelling in his new life with Hearts after Thursday's European win. Pic: SNS
Frankie Kent is revelling in his new life with Hearts after Thursday's European win. Pic: SNS

“It’s so different and I’m trying to take it all in. I was walking round the pitch at the end, looking around and listening to the noise and thinking: ‘I’ve never experienced that noise before at a home game.’ There was a bit of everything. Anything positive that went on, the crowd got behind you and that really helped.

“We could have gone under and not wanted the ball after going a goal down, but we didn’t. There were times we had to stick together but the sign of a good team is staying strong. We got something at the end of it.

“The belief we will take will be massive. We went more direct than normal. Boycie and Shanks up top caused so many problems with the aerial threat and hold-up play. We defended fairly well to back that up.”