Hearts V St Johnstone at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

04 March 2013 04:01
Hearts V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Cup win would be crumb of comfort - Stevenson

Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson admits victory in the Scottish Communities League Cup final might not be enough to make up for the shame of the club's current league campaign.

The Tynecastle outfit have slumped to second bottom of the standings after losing their last five Clydesdale Bank Premier League games.

First-team coach Gary Locke was in charge for the most recent of those matches - Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Motherwell - after boss John McGlynn was sacked last week.

Hearts now have a home encounter with St Johnstone and Sunday's Edinburgh derby clash with Hibernian at Easter Road - both in the SPL - before meeting St Mirren for the League Cup decider on March 17.

Player aspirations to succeed at Hampden Park will be fading after last week's developments followed various off-field financial problems and a string of recent departures including those of first-team regulars Ryan McGowan and Andy Driver.

Stevenson claims even landing the cup - and a first winner's medal of his career - might not be enough to restore the club's battered pride.

He said: "We need to start picking things up now because we have got three massive games coming up and us sitting 11th in the table is nowhere near good enough.

"It's been a season we'd all like to forget. Obviously we have got the cup final coming up, but regardless of that, we are second bottom and the games are running out.

"Would a cup final win change that? I don't really know. I've never been in a situation to win something.

"Maybe a week on Sunday if we win the cup, I can possibly sit there and say it's been a great season, because I've won my first medal. It's been a long time for me personally to have the chance of winning anything.

"But since I came here, we have always been pushing up the top end of the table. So for us to be sitting here down the bottom is something I can't stop thinking about.

"Would it take the shine off a cup win then? Possibly yes. Your league campaign is your bread and butter and as much as you go on about a cup run, the fact your manager has lost his job and it's getting harder and harder to make the top six is a major disappointment."

Hearts will have to do without midfielder Scott Robinson for the game after he was ruled out for the season.

The 20-year-old's campaign is over as he was told he will need surgery to repair torn knee cartilage and he will be joined on the sidelines by defender Dylan McGowan, who limped off against Motherwell.

Long-term absentees Danny Grainger (knee), Marius Zaliukas (ankle) and Callum Patterson (foot) remain out, while Jamie Hamill is still working his way back from knee surgery.

Meanwhile, St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas knows Hearts will not be short of motivation for the clash but insists his own side will be just as determined to seal the win.

The Edinburgh outfit will be looking for a positive result following the weekend defeat to Motherwell.

But Saints - sitting fifth in the table - are keen to pick up the wins that will secure their spot in the top half of the table before the league split.

Lomas said: "Gary Locke is a very respected former player and coach. He's a great lad and I'm sure the lads will want to play for him.

"They've got a cup final coming up and maybe some of the more experienced boys have got a point to prove. There are various reasons why they'll want to do well but we can only focus on what we can do.

"We can only focus on our performance, our defending and our attacking. It's a great opportunity for us but it's never easy to go to Tynecastle. It's a tough venue and we will have to perform."

He added: "The league's so tight and I think that's been a positive this year that everybody can beat everybody.

"Everybody has to perform because everybody can beat anybody on the day. If you don't perform in the 90 minutes, you get beat. It's as simple as that."

Saints are set for a double selection boost with Callum Davidson having recovered from illness and Murray Davidson back from suspension.

Source: PA