McPake refutes Hearts claims
Hibernian captain James McPake has dismissed claims from the Hearts camp that the pressure is on the Leith team ahead of their League Cup derby.
Hearts assistant manager Billy Brown claimed Hibs would have to cope with an added burden in the Easter Road quarter-final because they are the more experienced side who have spent money trying to improve their fortunes.
But McPake insisted there was only excitement emanating from inside the Hibs squad rather than any tension about the prospect of losing to their administration-hit city rivals for a second time this season.
"There is the same pressure on both teams," the 29-year-old said. "If we win, we're in the semi-final of the cup. If Hearts win, they are in the semi-final of the cup.
"I honestly don't see any difference. Whether you have a team full of young kids or whether you have a team full of 35-year-olds, it doesn't make it any easier in my opinion.
"It's a game of football. In my opinion we've got the better squad, everybody would probably agree with that, but it doesn't guarantee you win the game. You saw that at Tynecastle at the start of the season.
"I can remember Billy saying that in the Press when he was at Hibs, that all the pressure was on Hearts.
"I can guarantee that's not going to affect us.
"Yes, there is pressure that comes from playing in every single game but you use these pressures to your advantage and enjoy playing in it."
However, McPake concedes his team are driven on by the need to atone for their 1-0 defeat at Tynecastle in the second game of the Scottish Premiership season.
"The fans are quite right to expect us to put it right," said the defender, who missed that game with a back injury. "We want to put it right ourselves.
"It's personal pride, we want to be in another semi-final, we want to get one over our biggest rivals, we know how much it means to the fans and we are desperate to put a smile on their face and give them the bragging rights."
McPake played his first 90 minutes of the league season as Hibs lost 2-0 to Aberdeen on Saturday after Michael Nelson underwent surgery to repair a broken eye socket.
Hearts assistant manager Billy Brown claims Hibernian face all the added pressure.
Brown feels his team have been written off for the Easter Road clash following a poor run of league form that has seen them take just one point from seven games and end the first round of fixtures facing the 15-point deficit they started off the season with.
To compound matters, attacking player Ryan Stevenson is almost certain to miss out with a knee injury to leave administration-hit Hearts with just one outfield player aged over 21, midfielder Jamie Hamill.
Hibs had lost just once in nine games before their 2-0 home defeat by Aberdeen on Saturday and their fans will expect them to avenge their August league defeat against their youthful Edinburgh rivals.
And Brown feels his former club face the burden of expectation on Wednesday night.
Brown, who was assistant to both Colin Calderwood and current boss Pat Fenlon at Easter Road, said: "I don't think there are many games at this level where there is no pressure on. In derbies there is even more.
"But reading the papers and listening to everyone, they are not giving us a chance. As far as I can see, all the pressure is on Hibs.
"They have signed loads of players and there are not many clubs who pay B#200,000 for a player and Hibs have (James Collins).
"So there is a financial outlay and big expectations for their supporters. They are at home, there are not many young players in the Hibs team and they are playing a young team.
"I would think, if there's extra pressure in a game like this, it's certainly not at this end of the city."
Hearts' league predicament means they are in real need of picking up points at home to St Johnstone on Saturday and their financial constraints mean manager Gary Locke has little if any scope to rotate his squad.
But Brown scoffed at suggestions their demanding cup tie could prove a distraction to their relegation battle.
"I have never found being involved in an Edinburgh derby a headache," he said. "It's something to really look forward to. They are great games to take part in.
"You have got to be a realist in this job. We knew what we were taking on here. If anyone thought this was going to be plain sailing, it never was.
"It's not a distraction, it's something everyone in here relishes."