Hearts reveal the reaction needed at Kilmarnock as players are urged to show their response

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Hearts’ reaction to defeat at Aberdeen two weeks ago must manifest itself on the Rugby Park pitch against Kilmarnock today as manager Robbie Neilson advised his team to do their talking on the park.

He said the 3-0 defeat at Pittodrie before the international break is now consigned to history. Hearts get a chance to respond in Ayrshire as they look to rediscover winning form following four defeats in the last five matches.

Players and coaches held discussions over the last fortnight and are intent on harnessing any lingering anger in a positive way. “You can show it after the game in a dressing-room, you can show it in training, but the only way to rectify it is to show it in the following game,” Neilson told the Evening News. “We spoke about it and put it to bed. It's a case of making sure we are ready for the game on Saturday.

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“It will be a very difficult game, a physical game. Kilmarnock have scored more than 50 per cent of their goals from set-plays so you know what you are going to get. You need to be aggressive in these situations. You need to be aggressive right through the game.

“They will be organised, physical and aggressive. Kilmarnock have good players. Every team throughout the league has good players and they all have threats. Kilmarnock are now playing two strikers, [Danny] Armstrong is in there doing well for them, they also have some really strong defensive players as well.

“For us, the break has given boys a chance to go and play international football and get some experience. The other boys have had a chance to train, get themselves fresh and get ready for the run-in.”

The match marks the start of a hugely important April with four games until the Premiership split. After the trip to Kilmarnock, Hearts host St Mirren and visit city rivals Hibs before a home match against Ross County.

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“Every game is important now,” stressed Neilson. “We spoke to the boys, it's nine games to go and it's vital we pick up as many points as we can. That starts on Saturday. As the games start to chip away, if you can keep that lead, then it comes to a point where you are over the line. We need to try and get there.”