Robbie Neilson insists Hearts will be going all out for victory at St Johnstone tomorrow night because they are desperate to win the Betfred Cup.
The Tynecastle side’s inability to string together a notable cup run over the last two seasons has been a bone of contention among supporters, albeit three of their four attempts in the Scottish and League Cups under Neilson have been halted by Celtic.
The head coach knows supporters are craving progress in the knockout tournaments, particularly after seeing city rivals Hibs eliminate Hearts out on their way to winning the Scottish Cup last season.
Having strengthened his squad over the summer, Neilson now believes Hearts are well equipped to make an impact in the cups, and intends to start the ball rolling with victory in tomorrow’s last-16 encounter at McDiarmid Park.
“It’s the League Cup – we want to go and win it,” he told the Evening News. “Last season, although we wanted to do well in the cups, the main thing was stabilising ourselves in the league. I now think I’ve got a squad here that’s able to compete in the league and the cups.”
Neilson will have captain Alim Ozturk back in contention, while fellow defender Krystian Nowak – who has signed a two-year deal – could be in line for a debut in Perth. “We’ll take a good crowd up there and we’ll put out the strongest team we can,” said the head coach. “We’ll have a look at the squad and possibly make a few changes because it’ll be a different type of game to Celtic but it’ll still be a strong team. Any changes we make will just be to freshen things up and use the squad. We’ll have Ozturk back and Nowak in, so that gives us a few extra options.”