Taouil ready for an Ayr of hostility

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HEARTS’ former Kilmarnock players should expect a hostile reception at Somerset Park on Wednesday night when they face Ayr United in the third round of the League Cup.

Mehdi Taouil and Jamie Hamill could both play in the game after swapping Rugby Park for Tynecastle during the summer. Taouil explained the fierce rivalry that exists between the Ayrshire clubs and, as such, admitted he will be a target for abuse from Ayr supporters.

The Moroccan scored for Kilmarnock against their local rivals in a Scottish Cup replay in January 2009 and remembers the fervour which characterised the derbies.

“That was the derby against Ayr when I was with Kilmarnock. I played in one of them in the cup and scored as well. I think I’m going to have a nice reception on Wednesday,” he laughed. “We want to go there and win because it’s an important game. I want to get involved but we’ll see what the manager is going to do.

“That first cup game was a draw at Ayr and I played in the replay at Rugby Park. It was a very good atmosphere, it’s an old stadium at Ayr and the fans are good there. We are going to show them respect.”

Taouil was influential in Hearts’ 2-0 victory over St Mirren on Saturday, which saw him start for the first time since injuring his groin against Rangers in the opening SPL match of the season.

Paulo Sergio, the Hearts manager, is expected to use some fringe players on Wednesday but is determined to prepare professionally for a game against the First Division’s bottom club. “Ayr is another game,” said Sergio. “Till now I didn’t see anything of Ayr United so I will study them and take my decisions for this game. Don’t forget we have another one coming this weekend.”