Steven Naismith's message to Hearts ahead of facing Rangers, plus team news and what must be 'on point'

First hosts third in the Premiership in Glasgow on Saturday

The Hearts head coach Steven Naismith has a specific list of areas where his team must excel if they want a result against Rangers this weekend. Ibrox Stadium hosts first versus third in the Premiership on Saturday and Naismith is confident his team can cause the opposition problems.

To do so, they must be near-perfect in a number of areas. Training sessions at Riccarton this week have focused on defensive shape and solidity out of possession, as well as how to keep the ball and manufacture scoring chances going forward. Naismith explained Hearts' priorities to the Edinburgh News as they try to extend an outstanding run of 12 games without defeat in all competitions.

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"Out of possession, you need to be organised and disciplined," he stressed. "You have to recognise their threats, know when we can do what we've worked on in training and when we need to accept that we've got to suffer. That's one part of it.

"Then, in possession, you must be able to have the ball and make five or 10 passes rather than make two passes and give it away - or two passes and hit a shot which has a 10 per cent chance of becoming a goal. Those are the things that need to be on point for you to compete in games against the Old Firm."

Players with good ball retention will be heavily in the coach's thoughts when he names his starting line-up, as will those with good energy levels. "We also need to have legs in the team to get about the park. If you don't have legs in the team, the pitch effectively becomes half a pitch because you can't get up the park," he said.

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"You need a balance of guys who are threatening and attack-minded, as well as guys who are willing to cover and be a bit more defensive. In general, something for us to be better at is being comfortable on the ball. It doesn't matter if you are a centre-back, a full-back or an attacker, we need to get to the point where everybody is comfortable with the ball."

Hearts are without defender Craig Halkett, midfielder Peter Haring, winger Barrie McKay and striker Liam Boyce for this match due to injuries, but the rest of the squad are fit and available. Naismith reported that mindset within the group is strong and focused, with nobody getting carried away despite the recent impressive run.

"No, everybody is on the same page. Nothing has really changed. The noise outside is what it is," said Naismith. "I think the boys are getting a bit more credit now than they should have got earlier. That praise only comes because of the hard work you have done. As soon as you don't do it, that disappears.

"We talk about that quite a lot. We make a point of having an understanding because it's very important. I don't think anybody's mindset has changed from the start of the season."

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