Sean Clare stressed he is ready for his first Hearts start in the Edinburgh derby as manager Craig Levein considers pitching the winger in against Hibs.
Steven Naismith’s knee injury leaves an attacking void in Levein’s team and Clare is confident of stepping in for tomorrow night’s match at Tynecastle Park.
The Englishman claimed he is a man for the big occasion and, after two substitute appearances in his Hearts career so far, is fully prepared for the prospect of a start against Hibs.
“I don’t know how bad Naisy’s injury is but if I’m called upon I’ll be ready,” said Clare, the 22-year-old who joined Hearts as a free agent last month. “The team have been doing really well and winning games so I can’t complain. I just need to keep working hard and, if I am given a chance, I need to take it.
“I’m ready for any game. If I’m picked, then I’m ready. I’m a player who loves playing on big occasions. I love competitive games with a lot riding on them. Unfortunately, Sunday didn’t go our way against Celtic but I’m sure the next game will.
“I feel I’m quite an exciting player. I like getting on the ball and I like running with it. I’m hard-working and I will work hard for the team. Hopefully I can show the fans a bit more of what I’ve got. Whenever the gaffer calls on me, I’ll be ready.”
Levein admitted Clare is pushing for a place in his team after spending the summer recovering from an ankle problem. “Sean’s getting there,” said the manager. “I need to look at everybody who’s not on the injury list and, yeah, there’s a possibility that Sean might play.”
Clare featured as a substitute against Aberdeen ten days ago and savoured the intense Tynecastle atmosphere. He explained how he has researched the Hearts-Hibs rivalry and is eager to take part tomorrow after making another sub appearance in Sunday’s 3-0 Betfred Cup semi-final loss to Celtic at BT Murrayfield.
“When Tynecastle is full it’s like playing at Murrayfield when it’s full,” said Clare. “The atmosphere is great and the fans are really passionate. I’m buzzing to get a game.
“I’ve spoken to players about the derby and I’ve done my own research. It’s a big game in its own right. The important thing is we go in with a clear head and a gameplan like we’ve been doing this season, then we’ll be fine.
“Celtic are a good side and Sunday’s result wasn’t in our favour but we just need to look to the next game now. We were in the game for long spells but the most important thing is the next match.
“Sunday was a good learning curve but you don’t want to dwell on the negatives too much. We will just look forward to tomorrow’s game and try to get a positive result.”