Ryan McGivern has warned Hearts they’ll encounter a far stronger Hibs team in next month’s League Cup tie than the one that lost meekly at Tynecastle earlier in the season. The two Capital sides will meet at Easter Road in the last week of October after being paired together in yesterday’s quarter-final draw.
Defender McGivern admits his side will go into the tie with revenge on their minds after the 1-0 derby defeat on the second day of the Scottish Premiership campaign which saw Hibs and their manager, Pat Fenlon, widely written off.
Since then, a raft of summer signings have started to find their feet at Easter Road, with Fenlon’s side embarking on a six-game unbeaten run, which includes four victories.
As a result, McGivern is relishing the opportunity to set things straight when Gary Locke’s young team arrive in Leith.
“We knew whatever team we got was going to be a tough one and they don’t come tougher than a derby,” said the Northern Ireland internationalist.
“I think we were unlucky to come away without any points from Tynecastle earlier in the season. But we had a lot of new faces and it was only the second game of the season and if you look over the last six games you can see the boys are starting to gel and we’re unbeaten in six.
“I just hope we can keep that run going and by the time the Hearts game comes around we’ll be fully ready and looking to get through and book a place in the semi-finals. Hopefully we can get a wee bit of revenge back for the game earlier on in the season. We’ve got a couple of tough games before that so we’ll concentrate on them first but it’s an early chance to make amends for what happened at Tynecastle.”
McGivern admits everyone at Easter Road is relishing the prospect of a third Capital derby cup tie in as many seasons.
He added: “It’s a good draw for the fans and the biggest derby in Scotland at the minute so it’s a good one for us and the fans to look forward to. It’s a good reward for ourselves, for the fans, and hopefully we’ll have another full house and hopefully we’re able to do the job this time.
“Once Celtic went out the other night we knew there was a great chance for us if we can go and take it. There’s still a lot of good teams left in the competition, Aberdeen were comprehensive winners against a Falkirk side we played last season in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.”
Fenlon admits the League Cup “couldn’t have asked for a better tie” to capture the imagination of Scottish football fans, but the manager was more reluctant than McGivern to entertain talk of revenge.
“I’m happy to be at home,” he said. “There are some good teams left in the draw and I think everyone wanted a home tie, and this is a fantastic one.
“People have made a lot about going to Tynecastle and getting beat – but so did Aberdeen, and I never heard a word about that. We have a lot of league games before we can look forward to that one. It is only a draw for us . We are in the quarter-final, we wanted a home draw, and that is what we have got. But it won’t take my focus away at the moment.
“Both sets of fans will be delighted with it and that excitement is what derby matches are all about. It gives them something to look forward to; it gives us all something to look forward to. But we have to keep our good run going until then.
“Someone asked me the other day: ‘How do you jazz up this tournament and get the crowds in?’ An Edinburgh derby in the quarter-final is one way to do it! And there are some cracking games, and people will think: ‘Well, if they go out then we have a real chance’. When the games do come around, people will be thinking there is a real chance to get to a final. They are all tough games to call.”