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Hibernian V Hearts at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

01 Jan 2014 15:31:00

Hibernian V Hearts at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

Hibernian V Hearts - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.


Hibs adopt upbeat approach to derby

Hibernian goalkeeper Ben Williams will treat the Edinburgh derby like any other step in their ongoing attempts to turn their fortunes around and will not be consumed by reversing their two defeats against Hearts this season.


Pat Fenlon quit as manager after Hibs' second defeat against their administration-hit rivals and another loss to Gary Locke's youthful side would be hard to stomach for the Easter Road faithful on Thursday night.


But Williams is focusing on repeating the hard work that has brought them rewards since Terry Butcher took over as manager.


Butcher and assistant Maurice Malpas have suffered just one defeat in their seven games in charge, which came against Celtic, and Williams has only conceded two goals during that spell. Sunday's 3-0 win over Kilmarnock was their biggest victory of the season.


Williams said: "It's important for us to keep the momentum going. It's more important for us to approach the game like any other game.


"We will approach it exactly the same way we approached Kilmarnock on Sunday, and make sure the performance and work ethic is there, and the game will take care of itself.


"If we were to get tied up in the revenge theory, it's never good to go into a game with a negative thought process like that.


"You play opponents that many times, you are bound to lose along the way. You would be forever running around trying to get revenge on people. That's no good.


"We have got some real good positives to focus on and that's what we will be doing."


Hibs fans, still wounded by their 5-1 Scottish Cup final defeat by Hearts in 2012, would find it hard to take another loss against a squad that is stretched to the limit by financial constraints and football sanctions.


But Williams said: "The joy of winning is much stronger than the fear of losing. That's something we are now developing.


"We are developing a momentum and a self-belief and confidence within that, and I think it's important that we carry that on.


"The boys have shown a real togetherness and team spirit in the last seven games and it's important we don't forget what we have done right.


"Obviously we understand the importance to the fans of a derby. We don't miss that at all, of course we understand that.


"We are looking to send people away happy and with a real belief that the tides have changed at Hibs."


Hearts forward Ryan Stevenson is desperate to enjoy the Edinburgh derby after a "horrible" first half of the season.


Stevenson has had two spells out injured, the first a six-week lay-off because of a knee ligament injury that he suffered when Hearts beat Hibernian in the second game of the Scottish Premiership season.


The 29-year-old returned from a three-week lay-off with a torn hamstring to help Hearts end a five-game losing streak with a 1-1 draw at St Mirren Park on Sunday and he is undergoing intensive treatment to be ready for Thursday's clash at Easter Road.


And Stevenson admitted it had been difficult watching his young team-mates struggle during December.


"It's been horrible," said Stevenson, who is one of only two outfield players at Tynecastle who are aged over 22.


"To be fair, the full season has been horrible for me. There have been a few highs coming back in but, two games into the season and doing my knee and being out for so long, and then coming back and ripping my hamstring, it's been a terrible season for me personally.


"It's been hard because you are sitting on the sidelines wanting to help. And when things aren't going well you want to help the boys through it.


"I have been trying to push myself as hard as I can to try to get back as quickly as I can. Hopefully now I'm back I can stay clear of injury. Hopefully now we can kick on, it's going to be a big month and hopefully we can pick up points."


Stevenson's highlight of the season came at Easter Road in October when he struck a stunning goal to knock Hibernian out of the League Cup.


His appearance that night was a surprise after he had been carried off against Kilmarnock with a knee injury four days earlier.


But he is not one for letting pain stop him helping Gary Locke's team.


"To be honest with you, I would have played through my hamstring," he said. "As bad as it was, I would have kept playing if the manager had let me.


"I was on his case, even for the Kilmarnock game, to try to get back involved.


"And everyone wants to play in the derby. I am not 100 per cent fit but I will give everything I can."



PA

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