Hearts V Celtic at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview
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Walker backs Hearts to survive
Hearts winger Jamie Walker insists the Jambos' fired-up players are a safe bet to avoid relegation despite what the bookies say.
The administration-hit Tynecastle outfit were handed a 15-point punishment at the start of the season for breaching insolvency rules and were immediately installed as the 8/13 favourites to finish bottom of the Scottish Premiership.
But two wins and a draw from their first five games has seen Hearts reduce the gap separating them from second-bottom St Mirren to just nine points.
Now with champions Celtic to come on Saturday lunchtime, Walker insists their pre-season critics have only made the team more determined to go on and complete a remarkable escape.
He said: "It was a massive inspiration for us. Everyone was against us, the odds in the bookies were against us. Everyone thought we were going to go down.
"But we've had a good start. We had some hard games but we've done well and everyone is buzzing ahead of Saturday.
"Now we want to prove the people who doubted us wrong.
"There is still a massive gap to St Mirren and we know it is going to be hard but we believe we have the quality to do it. We would take 11th place and a shot at the play-offs now but the start we have had has been amazing and now we are looking to go as high as we can."
Hearts boss Gary Locke will be able to call on Jamie Hamill after his Inverness dismissal was overturned.
Celtic summer signing Steven Mouyokolo will be out of action for six months after suffering a complete rupture of an Achilles tendon.
The 26-year-old defender returned to France where he has had surgery on the injury he picked up at training on Monday.
Boss Neil Lennon said: ""It is devastating for him. He has worked so hard.
"It was an innocuous thing. He was running for the ball and we heard this pop.
"We thought he had clipped someone's ankle but obviously he knew straight away that something was wrong and he went over to the side."
New striker Teemu Pukki goes into the squad but Neil Lennon's other new signing, Israel midfielder Nir Biton, will join up with the Hoops next week for a Champions League clash with AC Milan at San Siro, while James Forrest is out after his sciatica problem flared up again.
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