Nathaniel Atkinson explains why Hearts can't let focus turn to Hibs
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The Tynecastle club hold a 13-point gap in third place in this season’s cinch Premiership and seem almost assured of finishing the campaign as best-of-the-rest.
As a result, onlookers are already peering beyond the next two league games to the double-header against Hibs, who visit Tynecastle in the final pre-split fixture before the meeting at Hampden.
But Atkinson believes the best way to prepare for the bouts against Shaun Maloney’s side is to win their remaining games, starting with today’s match against Livingston where Hearts will wear a special alteration to their third kit to champion Big Hearts, the club’s charity partner.
"The derby is one of the biggest games you want to play in. Both clubs have big fan bases and I have heard nothing but good words about Hampden, so I can't wait for that and to experience that atmosphere,” said the Australian.
"There’s definitely a big motivation to stay in form. Two derbies in two weeks doesn't come round too often. I think the best way to go into those games is to continue our form in the league and build up to those games.
"The carrot dangling in front of us to have the chance of playing European football next season. That's the driving factor in training every day. We all want to compete in Europe and if we finish third and play our best football in the cup as well, it gives us the best chance of doing that."