London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Paul Kiddie auth-> Mike McCurry
[A McGeady 9] ;[S Petrov 68]
1 of 010 ----- L SPL H

Long-awaited would be ideal victory over Celtic gift for McKenna


HEARTS defender Kevin McKenna knows exactly what he wants for Christmas - a first victory over Celtic.

The Canadian internationalist is in his fourth season at Tynecastle but has found a winning feeling against the Glasgow giants particularly elusive.

Close encounters have involved two draws while he was an unused substitute last year when the Jambos recorded a stunning triumph in Gorgie courtesy of Austin McCann’s last-minute screamer.

With his contract expiring in the summer and his future remaining uncertain amid the ongoing takeover saga involving Vladimir Romanov, time could be running out for the 24-year-old to remove the monkey from his back.

But as John Robertson’s suspension-hit outfit prepares to kick-off a daunting double-header against the champions this weekend and then Hibs at Easter Road a week later, McKenna knows a home win on Sunday would be just the tonic to help the team overcome the disappointment of their exit from the UEFA Cup.

Hearts were sent tumbling out of Europe by Ferencvaros at Murrayfield last week, the defeat meaning the players must now train their entire focus on the domestic front.

"I have been involved in a couple of draws and was on the bench the last time we beat them when Austin McCann scored a late winner in April last year," said McKenna.

"Hopefully a victory for myself over Celtic will come sooner rather than later and it would be great if it was to happen on Sunday.

"It’s a big physical test for us but we have nothing to lose and will be going out there looking for the three points and hopefully we can give our fans a little Christmas present to celebrate.

"We have Hibs the following week so these are two huge games for us and we need to start climbing the league again. We don’t want to be going into the New Year having to play too much catch-up on the teams above us.

"The European result was a disappointment although at the end of the day we didn’t have control over our own destiny. We were looking forward to facing Livingston last weekend and that was called off so it will be good to get back on the park on Sunday."

Close to full fitness again after recovering from a troublesome knee injury, McKenna could be given a rare start at centre-half due to the suspensions of both Andy Webster and Patrick Kisnorbo, the Australian beginning a two-match ban which will also rule him out of the trip across the Capital on Sunday, January 2.

Teenage star Christophe Berra is also under consideration, with Robertson confident he has matured enough to handle such a pressure occasion.

McKenna will be disappointed if the youngster gets the nod instead but also knows his team-mate is well capable of meeting the challenge posed by John Hartson and Chris Sutton.

"With Andy not playing because of his suspension there is an opening for someone and hopefully I’ll get the chance," he said.

"I have been trying to build up my knee again as I lost a lot of muscle due to the injury. It’s feeling quite good, though, and getting to the stage where I am quite happy with it.

"It must be around a year since I started a game at centre-half but I’m sure Elvis will keep me right!

"Christophe is a good young player who has a lot of pace and if the boss picks him then fair enough as he deserves his chance having done well this season. I would have no fears about him being thrown into Sunday’s match."

The Canadian is among a host of top-team regulars waiting anxiously to see what the future holds, Robertson unable to table concrete offers due to the lack of clarity surrounding the club’s transfer budget with Romanov and Robinson yet to conclude their deal.

While acknowledging the situation is far from ideal, McKenna is confident his team-mates can put the uncertainty behind them as they look to kick-start their SPL challenge.

"You can feel the uncertainty of it all in the dressing-room but we just have to get on with it," he said.

"Our futures will hopefully take care of themselves - if we are playing well we’ll get offered new deals, if we are not, we won’t be. One things is for sure - we can’t afford to dwell on the situation. I am contracted to Hearts until the end of the season and I have to play to the end of it.

"Being a professional is all about being able to shut these things out of our minds and concentrate on the football. Players are going to have this thing happen to them every time they come to the last year of their contracts so this is really nothing new for us.

"We have to concentrate on our form in the league and we also have a cup semi-final coming up at the beginning of February so there is still plenty to look forward to."

Taken from the Scotsman

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