Gary Mackay: Derby is huge semi-final is bigger for Hearts

Nobody wants to win a derby more than me and there are plenty reasons Hearts will want to beat Hibs tomorrow.

Friday, 5th April 2019, 6:30 am
Hearts hope to have Uche Ikpeazu in their ranks on Saturday. Pic: SNS

Come full-time, I must admit I will be casting an eye to the following weekend. The Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle is the defining game in our season for me.

It promises to be an interesting end to the season. Turning round a five-point gap between ourselves and Aberdeen or Kilmarnock in the league will be difficult if our inconsistencies continue.

I always personally focused on a derby – maybe over-focused at times if I’m honest – but the really big game becomes the Inverness semi now. It is now even bigger than it was when we got through to the semi-final.

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Having been 12 points in front of Hibs, we are now only one point in front, so there is a desire to stay above our local rivals and to beat them so that we are there in case Aberdeen or Kilmarnock do slip up.

Hearts’ home record is very good and we want that to continue. You hope the confidence hasn’t taken a dent after losing 3-0 at Rangers.

I was concerned prior to the trip to Ibrox about Jermain Defoe playing against us because he is nippy and gets in and around defenders’ feet. Sometimes big centre-backs can prefer a more physical battle but that wasn’t the case so it will be interesting to see who Hibs deploy up front and how they try to attack us. It is a real test for us.

We missed Uche Ikpeazu on Wednesday night. The Hibs players will feel they have a renewed vigour and confidence under their new manager. Our form has been patchy despite a good win against Aberdeen having been 1-0 down.

It would be brilliant to go four points in front of Hibs and consolidate in fifth position. However, if you are looking at your season as a whole, then ultimately the week after at Hampden becomes a hugely defining moment in our season as we attempt to reach a cup final.