How Hearts will make Celtic build-up as normal as possible at 'considerable expense'

Hearts will try to make the build-up to Sunday’s Scottish Cup final as normal as possible by staying in a hotel on the eve of the clash with Celtic – despite the “considerable expense” it will incur.

By Mark Atkinson
Tuesday, 15th December 2020, 10:09 am
Hearts take on Celtic in Sunday's Betfred Cup final.
Hearts take on Celtic in Sunday's Betfred Cup final.

The 2020 showpiece at Hampden is totally different to previous finals, with the match to be played without supporters due to restrictions stemming from the current coronavirus pandemic.

However, Jambos manager Robbie Neilson wants the lead-in to the match to be as similar to what the club would normally do for such an event.

"I think it's important that we do that, like we did for the semi [against Hibs],” Neilson told the Evening News. “Ann [Budge, Hearts’ owner] allowed us to do it – it's quite a considerable expense, to be honest with you – but I think it's important that there is no stone left unturned, no excuses, everything is done properly, so we can turn up and we are ready to go."

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Neilson knows the importance of Sunday’s meeting with Celtic – which is a repeat of the 2019 final, which Celtic won 2-1 – and is taking no notice of the holders’ recent poor run of form, with Neil Lennon’s team looking to secure an unprecedented quadruple-treble.

The Hearts boss travelled to Celtic Park on Sunday to watch their Premiership match against Kilmarnock and outlined just how big a challenge the Tynecastle outfit face, while stressing that the current Championship leaders believe they are more than capable of bringing the trophy back to Gorgie for the first time since 2012.

"Celtic played against Aberdeen in the semi-final and for the first half, it's probably the best Celtic have played for the past two years,” Neilson continued. “We know they are a top, top team. We know they will be up for it. They have international players, so we have to prepare properly. There will be no complacency, we won't be thinking 'Celtic's form isn't this or that, they've not been playing as well'.

"We know it will be a tough game, but we believe we have a squad here that can go and win the game.”

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