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[D Riordan 22]
3 of 025 Paul Hartley 55 L SPL A

Hearts hope derby day cliché is true to form

Birthday boy Gordon sure team can bounce back for Hibs test


THEY say the form book goes flying out the window on derby day - and it will have to if Hearts are to take anything from this weekend’s clash against Hibs at Easter Road.

John Robertson takes his side across the Capital on Sunday in desperate need of a new year pick-me-up with the Jambos trailing their arch rivals by nine points.

An uninspired Gorgie outfit slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Celtic at Tynecastle on Boxing Day to remain rooted in sixth spot in the SPL, Hibs taking advantage of the setback to storm into third place with an impressive 4-1 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice.

Hearts will take on Hibs having recorded just one win in their last six league outings, while the men from Leith have surged into third on the back of five victories in their last six matches.

The reversal in fortunes of Edinburgh’s big two this season has been hard to take for the Gorgie faithful and defeat in Leith is unthinkable for those of a maroon persuasion. Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon, though, is confident his team-mates will bounce back from the disappointing display against the champions to get 2005 off to a flying start.

"I think we maybe showed Celtic too much respect and that was disappointing," said Gordon, who celebrates his 22nd birthday on Hogmanay.

"I think we could have got in amongst them a bit more and made it more difficult for them.

"It wasn’t the hardest win they have had here and although I didn’t have that many saves to make there were a few close things and they could maybe have got more goals. In the end we can be lucky they only managed two. We obviously have to pick ourselves up for the derby but that shouldn’t be too difficult.

"It is a massive game for us and there will not be any motivation required from our point of view.

"We were disappointed after Sunday but I’m sure the guys will be ready for Hibs. It’s not about what they do, it’s about what we do and we’ll be going there trying to nullify their threat and pick up the three points."

With 38 goals to their credit this season, Mowbray’s youngsters have hit the back of the net almost twice as many times as Sunday’s opponents, his much-vaunted youngsters earning rave reviews in an impressive campaign.

In recent years, though, Hearts have demonstrated an ability to produce a much stronger second half to their season and Gordon is in no doubt that once again that will have to be the case if the Jambos are to be serious contenders for third place.

"We will have to lift our level of performance from Sunday but in many ways the Easter Road clash is an even bigger match for us than the Celtic game and we’ll be ready to give our best," he said. "There has been a lot of hype about Hibs and their young players have been playing well but we have a decent record against them. They are always dangerous, though, especially at their own place and it is going to be another tough 90 minutes. Historically we have finished the second half of the season strongly and we will have to do so again, no two ways about it, as we have to get back up that league and that starts with the Hibs game this weekend."

Twelve points would be a daunting gap to bridge for Robertson’s outfit but Tynecastle keeper Gordon is adamant that even if things do not go as planned in Leith, it would not be the end of the world. "Defeat is not something we are contemplating but it wouldn’t be a disaster," he said.

"There is a long way to go and plenty of time to make up the ground but we do need to start closing the gap on the teams above us and three points this weekend would be a big help."

Following the Celtic loss, Robertson highlighted the effect which having so many out-of-contract players had on the performance, 14 members of the first-team squad free to talk to other clubs on the opening of the transfer window on Saturday. It is an unsettling period for all concerned but with the budget for players still to be determined, the scenario is likely to get worse before it gets better with a number of stars linked with moves out of Gorgie next month, Mark de Vries, Ramon Pereira and Alan Maybury the most likely departures.

"There are people who are worried and people do talk about things in the dressing-room," said Gordon. "I don’t want to get too involved but I am confident we can handle this situation.

"We have dealt with situations like the fans’ protests before and this is just another one. There are a lot of the guys out of contract but the players have to get together and come out of this much stronger."

Taken from the Scotsman

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