Jon Daly wants Hearts to be organised, disciplined and hard to beat at Celtic Park today as they begin their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign.
The Edinburgh club’s interim head coach knows they must contain Brendan Rodgers’ side but insisted it is just as vital to carry an attacking threat in Glasgow.
Daly must decide whether to play with a back three, as Ian Cathro did before being sacked, or revert to a four-man defence. Either way, he wants a compact team well-drilled to cope with the dangers of the Premiership champions.
“I’ve played there loads of times and I’ve played in teams that have sat off Celtic. Ultimately, the longer you sit off, something is going to give,” he said. “We need to be really disciplined and structured in our approach. We also need to give them a scare when we have the ball.”
“The team will be set up in a way that we’re hard to beat,” he told the Evening News ahead of today’s lunchtime kick-off. “We want to be dogged, disciplined and hard to beat. We also want to have an attacking threat. We aren’t going to Celtic Park just to make up the numbers, sit back and invite them on to us without having something to offer.”
The veteran Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes could feature for Hearts after returning to training. John Souttar and Ashley Smith-Brown are also available and improving their fitness after injury.
“Aaron should be in contention because he’s back training now,” said Daly. “He has a wealth of experience and will be back in the squad, although he has only trained for a couple of days. He’s played in hundreds of games as big as this. We’re hoping he’ll be good to go.
“John is training and will have a chance. He’s grown up a lot since I knew him at Dundee United. He’s not as soft as he used to be,” laughed Daly. “He’s physically able and he’s strong. He said he’s fit so that’s a decision we’ll have to make. Ashley Smith-Brown has trained and hopefully he can be involved.”