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Hearts keen to promote Edinburgh derby
Hearts manager John McGlynn has urged his players to seize the chance to move six points ahead of Hibernian and showcase the Edinburgh derby on a wider stage.
With the loss of Rangers, the Clydesdale Bank Premier League has lost its grandstand fixture.
However, the SPL has also gained a Tayside and Highland derby following promotion for Dundee and Ross County.
And the Easter Road clash on Sunday comes with the added spice of Hibs looking to avenge their 5-1 William Hill Scottish Cup final defeat in May.
Hearts, though, want to build on their opening-day win over St Johnstone and maintain the momentum after drawing Liverpool in the Europa League play-offs.
McGlynn said: "In Edinburgh, a derby game is a derby game but, because there is no Old Firm derby, then we might get more exposure in the wider public especially as the English scene is not quite started up yet.
"A lot of eyes are going to be on Easter Road so it's a big profile for us.
"There will probably be a couple of guys from Liverpool watching us. So it's a good opportunity for us to go and show that there is good football and good games in the Edinburgh derby."
While Hearts had a solid start to the campaign, Hibs lost 3-0 at Dundee United.
Hibs boss Pat Fenlon is under pressure to secure real improvement following two-and-a-half years of struggle and restore some of the pride that was lost at Hampden in May.
McGlynn, who has Danny Grainger available after suspension, said: "It's not my concern but at the same time it's hard to avoid that.
"You would be wanting to put things right from the Scottish Cup final and also from last weekend.
"Dundee United played exceptionally well but Hibs will want to make amends for that as well.
"So we have to guard against that and make sure we don't lose the focus and look too far ahead to the Liverpool game.
"We have to focus on ourselves and be blinkered. We have got to go there and try to get six points ahead of Hibs so early in the season."
Fenlon hopes his new signings will help add the physical and mental strength needed to turn the tide in the derby.
Former Hearts defender Alan Maybury and former Coventry midfielder Gary Deegan could make their debuts, and Fenlon hopes they can help instil a more solid approach from his team.
He said: "In some of the games we have probably been bullied a little bit and we have got to make sure we are strong.
"We could probably do with a couple of more to strengthen the squad.
"The two boys who have come in have plenty of experience and they will relish playing on Sunday. I don't think either of them will fear going out there on Sunday, that's for sure.
"Alan has great experience and Gary has that and a bit of steel about him. He will relish Sunday and that kicks in to other players."
Hibs are under pressure to give supporters some form of lift after a long summer in the wake of their Hampden thrashing by Hearts.
Their first attempt to do so ended in failure as they lost to Dundee United last weekend.
Another defeat to Hearts could risk undermining Fenlon's summer rebuilding job but the Irishman has demanded his players rise above the fear factor.
"They have got to enjoy playing," the former Bohemians manager said.
"I've said that to them this week, if they can't enjoy playing in this atmosphere and on this surface.
"They should be feeding off that. They have to get the supporters behind them and have a right crack at them.
"There is always pressure in every job you are in, we all know that in football.
"There are plenty of people outside who want to stick the boot in as well, so that doesn't help, but you have to live with that.
"You can only try to progress. We have changed the club around, the squad, and there are going to be ups and downs. But we have to make sure we are competitive."
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