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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Paul Kiddie auth-> Levan Paniashvili
[D Rosa 30]
3 of 025 ----- E H

Hartley intent on making up for missing out on a Swiss classic


PAUL HARTLEY was forced to listen to Hearts’ epic UEFA Cup triumph over Basel on the radio - now he’s hoping the Jambos are on the right wavelength against Ferencvaros.

The midfielder was suspended for the clash in Switzerland and tuned in from afar as his team-mates sent shock waves throughout Europe with a dramatic victory in the Stadion St Jakob Park.

Along with Patrick Kisnorbo, who was also banned, the Gorgie playmaker was left behind as the Jambos jetted out to the picturesque Swiss town.

Desperate to follow the team’s progress as Hearts went gunning for the three points to keep alive their Group A aspirations, Hartley kicked every ball from the comfort of his home as he listened nervously to the events unfolding in Basel.

Robbie Neilson’s last-minute strike stunned the home side to clinch a 2-1 win for the visitors to set up Thursday’s crunch tie against Ferencvaros at Murrayfield.

Tynecastle boss John Robertson had been hoping to see Hearts’ destiny rest in their own hands, although those plans were scuppered by Basel’s 2-1 victory in Hungary. The Jambos can ill afford to let their minds wander to events in Switzerland on Thursday when Feyenoord take on Christian Gross’ side looking to cement their place as group winners, as failure to win their own game in the Capital will render results elsewhere meaningless.

"All we can do is go out on Thursday, play our own game, make sure we win the match and hope Feyenoord can do us a turn in Basel," said Hartley.

"First and foremost we have to win the tie. This will be one of my first experiences of such a scenario when we have to rely on another result. But we will go out and try to take care of our business and see what happens elsewhere.

"Hopefully there will be a bit of luck going in our favour. We can still get knocked out even if we win the game and it would be disappointing not to make it to the next phase with six points.

"Basel had a good result in the last match against Ferencvaros, although it was so close to the perfect outcome for us.

"The Hungarians got a late penalty and had a chance to make it 2-2 with just a few minutes left but their goalkeeper came up to take it and missed the target.

"It’s just one of those things as it would have been in our own hands had that game been drawn."

With a crowd of approaching 30,000 anticipated at the home of Scottish rugby, Hartley reckons the players will be made well aware of what’s happening in the Stadion St Jakob Park.

However, he is just delighted to be going into the game with the opportunity to progress to the knockout stage of the competition.

He said: "I listened to the match in Switzerland on the radio and it was a tremendous result for the boys. I don’t think anyone expected us to win and I don’t think anyone expected Robbie Neilson to hit the target never mind score!

"I was still a wee bit wary after that goal went in as there were a few minutes left but once the final whistle went it was an incredible feeling. It was disappointing not to play but depending on what the manager’s thoughts are, hopefully I’m selected for the game on Thursday. No-one, though, has a divine right to walk straight back into the side.

"I’m just hoping to play a part which helps take us through to the last 32.

"To get that victory gives us a real chance of going through and that’s what we wanted and I am sure the crowd will let us know what the score is in Basel by their reaction. We must focus on the 90 minutes and keep our fingers crossed the result we get will be good enough to take us through."

The former Hibs and St Johnstone star has been outstanding for Hearts over the past year and he saw his excellent form rewarded with a call-up to the Scotland Future team this week, the midfielder playing an hour of the 3-0 defeat from Germany in Mannheim in front of new national boss Walter Smith.

The outcome took the shine off his big day, although he is hoping it’s not his last taste of the international big time.

Hartley is dreaming of forcing his way into Smith’s plans for the World Cup qualifier in Italy next year, and more top displays in high-profile matches such as Thursday will do him no harm whatsoever.

However all thoughts of Scotland will be put to the side while he tries his best to ensure another night of European glory for the Gorgie outfit.

"It was good to be involved in the Scotland set-up and while I enjoyed the experience, the result was disappointing," he said. "It was a difficult game as we were up against quality opposition and it was the first time we had been together as a squad.

"It was a step up compared to the SPL and maybe more like a European tie. I was probably the most senior player there which felt a bit different but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"Walter Smith didn’t say anything to us after the game so we will just have to wait and see what happens in the future. The international thing goes out the window just now as this week is all about getting Hearts through.

"But if I keep doing well for the club then hopefully further recognition will follow."

Taken from the Scotsman

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