Hearts aim to increase their advantage in the chase for European football
With Aberdeen at Pittodrie next on Hearts’ fixture list this Saturday, manager Robbie Neilson has implored players to cement third place in the Premiership following their Scottish Cup exit.
Neilson stressed that the season is far from over in the wake of Celtic’s quarter-final victory at Tynecastle Park on Saturday. Hearts coveted another run to the final having featured in three of the last four, but now their sole focus returns to league duties.
They sit third in the top flight, five points clear of fourth-placed Hibs and seven ahead of Aberdeen in fifth. The aim is to retain that position over the remaining ten games of the campaign and secure European football for a second successive season.
Hibs travel to league-leaders Celtic on Saturday so the Edinburgh club sense an opportunity to increase the points advantage over their two nearest challengers. Neilson reiterated that Hearts’ season is far from over following their cup loss.
“It's not over, 100 per cent,” said the manager. “For us it's all about the league now and, to be honest, it's always been about the league. We need to make sure we finish third so it's a massive game at Pittodrie on Saturday. It's an opportunity to hopefully extend our lead in third as well so we need to get ready for that.”
Aberdeen have played five games since sacking former manager Jim Goodwin and placing coach Barry Robson in interim charge. Three victories during that time gives the Pittodrie support hope that they could yet finish in the Premiership’s top four.
“I will watch them and see what they do, if it's anything different. It's the same players obviously but hopefully we can go up there and get a result,” added Neilson.