Ian Cathro admits Hearts are approaching the most pivotal week of their season ahead of league games against Celtic, St Johnstone and Dundee inside six days.
The Tynecastle head coach expects next week’s matches to define his club’s campaign after an inconsistent run of form.
Hearts have won just five of their last 18 outings in all competitions and slipped to fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership before the international break.
Cathro is hoping they recover ahead of the league split in the middle of next month. They host champions-elect Celtic this Sunday, followed by a midweek trip to fourth-placed St Johnstone and Dundee’s visit to Gorgie a week on Saturday.
Those three fixtures are likely to determine whether the Edinburgh club can maintain hope of achieving a place in next season’s Europa League qualifying rounds. There are three games inside a week and a lot will happen in that time with the midweek fixture,” Cathro told the Evening News. “We’re really focused on that week and making sure we climb back up.
“From this point, it’s the biggest period of our season given the way the fixtures are and the stage we are at. We know where we want to be come the end of that week, then there’s the Kilmarnock game just before the split. We’re looking at that week on its own and we know what we want out of it. It will be a long week and a very important week.”
Celtic will be officially crowned champions if they beat Hearts on Sunday in the lunchtime kick-off. However, Cathro is drawing confidence from his team’s 4-1 win over Rangers at Tynecastle last month. He wants the same level of endeavour and industry from his players.
“Maybe tactically you can play differently but your energy, strength, intensity – that has to be a constant,” he added. “If we don’t hit those levels, we won’t get the outcome we want. These things are bare minimums. We are in control of how consistent we are with those things.”