Lawrence Shankland makes his point after talks with Hearts manager Robbie Neilson

It’s a timely juncture for Lawrence Shankland to make his point. A substitute in two of Hearts’ last three matches, a hat-trick against Celtic is an ideal way to stake your claim ahead of an important midweek European tie.
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The striker trudged rather than skipped out of Tynecastle Park on Saturday despite his own personal triumph. He is the first Hearts player to score three against Celtic since 1976, but the final 4-3 scoreline favoured the opposition. It is now three wins in 15 games for the Edinburgh club.

Latvian champions RFS arrive in Gorgie this week for a Europa Conference League tie Hearts must win to maintain any hope of reaching the competition’s knockout phase. Shankland is a man in form after two penalties and a poacher’s finish earned him the weekend’s match ball. That’s in spite of him only replacing the injured Stephen Humphrys on 39 minutes.

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It was his first Premiership hat-trick and proved once again that he can deliver on big occasions. “That’s it, but there is a squad there that needs to get used,” explained the centre-forward. “The manager has got the hardest job and he needs to make decisions. He can only play 11 players.

“The gaffer spoke with me on Friday and explained what he was going to do. I accepted that quickly and got over it. I knew turning up against Celtic that I could have a part to play and I was ready for it. Thankfully enough I could make an impact.

“When you are on the pitch you just want to do as well as you can for the club – as does every boy in that changing room. I know the characters in there and that is the way everyone is. It is not through a lack of effort, everyone is trying their best and we are all sure that we can turn things and get better results. We are all looking forward to Thursday.”

As for that match ball, Shankland might find a small shelf at home for his collection. “It’s a big shelf,” he laughed. “Actually, my mum and dad keep most of them. My house is getting decorated just now so I might need a shelf built.

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“You need to get things like that. It is an achievement in football to score a hat-trick, especially against the champions. It’s good and I’ll keep it. I think that’s eight [hat-tricks] in my career but that’s my first in the Premiership. So it’s a wee bit more special.”

Lawrence Shankland scored a hat-trick for Hearts against Celtic on Saturday.Lawrence Shankland scored a hat-trick for Hearts against Celtic on Saturday.
Lawrence Shankland scored a hat-trick for Hearts against Celtic on Saturday.

He certainly wasn't flustered by multiple VAR controversies on the day. “I had VAR in Belgium last year. There are quite a lot of bizarre moments that you will see throughout the season. I’ve not seen anything back from the game but if the right decisions come of it, it’s good. There are going to be times where it’s you on the receiving end of the decision and there will be times when it goes for you. Everybody will experience it.”

Hearts (4-1-4-1): Gordon; M Smith (Halliday 84), Sibbick, Kingsley, Cochrane; Kioourtzoglou (C Smith 84); Ginnelly (Forrest 70), Devlin, Snodgrass, McKay; Humphrys (Shankland 39).

Celtic (4-3-3): Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Jenz, Bernabei (Taylor 66); Mooy, O’Riley, Hatate (Abildgaard 90); Forrest (Abada 66), Giakoumakis, Maeda (Haksabanovic 66).

Referee: Nick Walsh.

Attendance: 18,081.