Hearts V Aberdeen at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

29 December 2016 09:34
Hearts V Aberdeen - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Jack Hamilton always felt big win was just around the corner for Hearts

Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton claims Ian Cathro's first win as head coach was only a matter of time after feeling they were on the right course throughout.

And Hamilton was more concerned with staying in touch with Aberdeen and Rangers than easing any pressure surrounding the appointment of the 30-year-old.

Hearts delivered an emphatic first three points for Cathro at the fourth time of asking on Tuesday when they beat Kilmarnock 4-0 to set up the chance to jump above third-placed Aberdeen at Tynecastle on Friday night.

Hamilton said: "It was a big win but it didn't faze him. We had been playing well, there were loads of positives and that result was going to come. It was just a matter of time.

"A few bad results went against us, it was more about getting back on a winning run to get closer to Aberdeen and Rangers. That was the reason it was a much-needed win for us."

Cathro's main change has been to introduce Krystian Nowak as a holding midfielder but otherwise the team is lining up in similar fashion to Robbie Neilson's, although Hearts will now have to adjust to life without top goalscorer Callum Paterson following the right-back's serious knee injury.

Liam Smith was a direct replacement on Tuesday and set up the second goal for Arnaud Djoum.

Hamilton said: "There have been wee tweaks and in certain aspects that's helping. It certainly worked on Tuesday night and at Dundee as well, the first 60 minutes we were excellent.

"We are getting better every training session. We are taking it a game at a time, a training session at a time, and everyone is improving.

"Slight things change in training, managers have different ideas, the manager has different ideas from the previous but they are still good and they are just about trying to make us better on the field. It is working so far."

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes reckons Cathro is already starting to put his stamp on Hearts.

The rookie Jambos boss has proved to be a controversial appointment by Tynecastle owner Ann Budge given his lack of playing career.

The former Valencia and Newcastle coach's critics were then given extra ammunition when he failed to win any of his first three games in charge.

The Dons boss said: "I've never met Ian. It might seem an unusual appointment but nobody can say with any certainty how it will pan out when a new manager comes in.

"I think he deserves the opportunity to take the job on.

"Looking at his team, you can see there are already little subtle changes and he has put his stamp on them.

"There is always a healthy respect between managers in our league and I obviously wish Ian well.

"Whenever we play Hearts there is always a lot of edge to the game. They made it quite clear last season they saw us as someone they wanted to climb above.

"We were happy to take that challenge on and I think it's been the same this season."

The Tynecastle clash is both sides' last match before the winter break and McInnes is looking forward to resting up some of his tired players.

"The winter break is not really a winter break," he said. "The players will be given a week off - it's some time to spend with their families and some time to switch off mentally. The physical part of it will be important for a few of them too.

"A few need it more than others but it's an opportunity to do it. For the last three seasons we've had early starts with the Europa League and we've not had the normal summer break that other teams have had.

"So I think any opportunity to give a few days break to certain players is always welcome."

Source: PAR