Hibs' David Gray doesn't think Hearts will finish bottom - and gives insight into 'animosity' of derby
Easter Road skipper believes Capital rivals are 'underachieving'
Hibs captain David Gray has revealed he doesn’t expect Capital rivals Hearts to finish bottom of the Premiership table.
The Tynecastle outfit sit three points adrift going into today’s derby in Gorgie, with Gray hoping that Jack Ross’ side can add to their woes as they look to bounce back following defeats by Celtic and Rangers.
Those results resulted in Hibs slipping out of the top six, with Ross looking to the derby and Sunday’s visit to Livingston to return to that position.
Insisting there would be no better way to put the games against the Old Firm behind them than winning at Tynecastle, Gray admitted using the nerves among the home support to Hibs advantage would be part of their game plan.
He said: “In any derby, if we go there and start well, the home crowd can start to turn. With them sitting bottom of the league, that can happen very easily. But it’s about how we start the game. If we can start well and get a foothold, that can only be positive.”
However, asked if there would be any joy in ensuring Hearts remain bottom, Gray said: “I don’t think they’ll be there come the end of the season, to be honest.
“They are where they are at the minute. We are where we are at the minute. Both clubs would probably say they are underachieving. Our focus is to get up that league. No better way for us to put disappointing results behind us than with a win at Tynecastle.”
Pressed as to why he believes Hearts won’t be where they are at the end of the season, Gray said: “I don’t know. You can never say never.
“But you’d like to think that they’ve got some really good players who are just underachieving. That doesn’t give you a right to win any game of football. We’ve experienced that ourselves this year, not hitting the heights we should have.
“We will be concentrating on ourselves and starting to climb up the league.”
After four months out with a knee injury, fit-again Gray is hoping to play some part today, revealing he loves playing at Tynecastle and getting up close and personal with the Hearts fans.
He said: “Personally, it’s my favourite game. These are the games that really get the juices flowing. If you go through all the games you play, away to Tynecastle on Boxing Day or New Year, these are the fantastic occasions.
“Purely because I play for Hibs, I love playing at Tynecastle – the atmosphere for these games is always fantastic. The are are so close to the pitch, it’s very compact and you really struggle to hear your team-mates. That’s an indication of how loud it can be.
“Ibrox is similar in a way. It can be quite intimidating for some players, I can imagine. But I love the animosity that comes with this fixture, the supporters giving you stick. It adds to the occasion.
“Taking a throw-in is fantastic. Getting the ball back from the crowd is always interesting. It’s just a bit of banter, people get behind their team and you take a bit of stick. I wouldn’t have it any other way to be honest.
“I’ve never had anyone just hand the ball back to me for a throw-in. Never. The usual shout is ‘come and get it’. That’s the shout – and usually from women. It definitely adds to it.”