It is more than two and a half years since Hibs last won against their biggest rivals and, as a result, Hearts travel to Easter Road with confidence. Neilson challenged his players to handle the demands of continuing that record.
“Are we comfortable being favourites? I would take being favourites every week if I could,” said the Tynecastle manager. “When you play at Hearts you want to go into these games as favourites. It’s part of being here you have to win games. You have to be able to handle that.
“When we play we want to win every week, with that comes pressure and intensity and you have to make sure you do it. There will be bumps in the road but we expect to go into every game, home or away and win it. It will be the same for this game.”
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Hibs owner Ron Gordon stated last month that he was unhappy his club would be playing Hearts and Rangers in their first two home league matches. Neilson stated he has no issue with scheduling a derby on the second weekend of the new season.
“I quite like them coming early in the season. In my experience they usually come early,” he said. “It gives you a target in pre-season, you build up to it as it is early in the campaign. It gets it over with, you want to build momentum, there’s nothing better than winning it. You want to get your first win of the season, we have both done that. If you win the derby it gives you that push.”
Hearts defender Stephen Kingsley is still a major doubt for the match due to a hamstring problem, although he did some training on Friday. “Stephen took part in training and he isn’t far away,” confirmed Neilson, who added that recent signing Lawrence Shankland is also still working towards peak fitness.
Former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Jacob Davenport trained at Riccarton this week as he attempts to win a contract. “Jacob is still training with us and we will make a decision on him over the weekend,” said Neilson.