HIBERNIAN striker Eoin Doyle believes Hearts will be nervous going into the Edinburgh derby on 3 January after his own team’s win over Celtic on Saturday. The Irishman knows his team have been playing inconsistently over the past month or so, but hopes the victory over the champions will be the start of an improved run of form.
“We’re a good team – Celtic are a cut above, but everyone else is on a level,” he said. “After winning this it will put us in a good frame of mind for Thursday, and I’m sure Hearts will be a bit nervous about it. It’s a derby game and these are the ones you want to play in. Motivation doesn’t come into it and I’m sure we can put in a good performance.
“The Celtic game was a good one for any neutral at the ground and we move on to Hearts. This win is a good positive and another victory is what we’re looking to achieve on Thursday.
“When we went on a run the crowd were behind us, and they were great again against Celtic. Hopefully we can kick on from here. I think the last few games have been disappointing, but we showed a bit of fire. We were compact and showed good desire to see the result out. I’m sure we can put in the same performance and get the same result on Thursday.
“The lack of consistency is disappointing, but we were going through a rough patch at the start of the season and then drew 2-2 at Parkhead and that was the start of a great run for us. Hopefully this will inspire us again to go on a run like that.”
After Leigh Griffiths opened the scoring, Doyle had two opportunities to stretch Hibs’ lead in the first half, and admitted he was concerned that failure to convert them could have allowed Celtic back into the game. “It did cross my mind after my missed header that it might be costly. It hit my face, rolled down on to my chest and then into his hands. I’m confident if I get the same chance again I’ll make sure I can put it in the net.”
While Doyle failed to score with a couple of decent chances, Efe Ambrose had what looked like a simpler opportunity to equalise for Celtic, kneeing the ball wide of the target from barely a yard out in the second half. “I should have scored from that distance, but sometimes when the ball comes to you that fast, you don’t see it until it hits you,” said the Nigerian, who is about to go off on international duty at the African Cup of Nations.
Ambrose will initially report to his country’s training camp in Portugal before the tournament starts in South Africa on 19 January. Despite Saturday’s defeat, he is confident that Celtic will still win the league with something to spare. “I am leaving the club in a good position,” he said. “We may lose a game every now and then – this is football.”