RETURNING Rangers striker Kenny Miller has questioned Hearts’ ability to go all the way in the Championship this season, insisting they lack the experience of winning titles.
Miller, who is fit to face Raith Rovers today after a calf problem, has been hugely impressed by the remarkable start to the campaign by Robbie Neilson’s side who have racked up eight wins and a draw.
He knows that the nine-point gap created between Hearts and Rangers is considerable, even if Rangers have a game in hand, but he remains confident that deficit will be over-turned.
The 35-year-old said: “Winning a league is the hardest thing to do in football.
“You can be miles and miles ahead but to get that last win and get across the line is the hardest thing to do. That pressure does mount.
“We have got the experience in our dressing room of having to go through it on the final day or having to win an Old Firm game to even claw yourself back into the race.
“I remember when we had Celtic at Ibrox in 2009 and we had to win. Steve Davis scored and that kicked us on until the end of the season.
“We are hoping it won’t be like that come March, April time. We hope we are comfortable in the league but, the way Hearts are going, it looks like it will go to the wire.”
Miller has also questioned the mentality of the Hearts players who are not used to the pressure of having to win every match.
He said: “I don’t know any of their lads really so I don’t know their attitude or mentality towards the game.
“I just think if you are ahead by nine points, complacency can maybe creep in.
“I don’t know. It could be they might say ‘we could afford to draw here’ or ‘we can afford to lose, we are still ahead’. That is a dangerous way of thinking.
“The longer that run goes on, the more other teams are motivated to put an end to that run.
“They might see teams raising their game more against them, like they have done against us this season.
“There are a lot of things that come into it when you are trying to win a title.
“That pressure and experience of maybe not being there might start telling, there might be injuries or suspensions to key players, who knows?”
Meanwhile, Raith Rovers defender Rory McKeown admits he has his fellow Northern Irishmen to thank for ensuring he has a spring in his step ahead of today’s trip to Rangers. And the left-back is hoping a solid display at Ibrox can boost his chances of joining up with them in the international set-up.
Michael O’Neill’s side lead Euro 2016 qualifying Group F after making it three wins out of three with victories over the Faroe Islands and Greece last week.
Former Kilmarnock player McKeown is desperate to be involved and hopes to lay the foundations for Northern Ireland recognition with an impressive performance at Rangers today.
He said: “It’s been nice to see Northern Ireland getting results, it has been really nice.
“It’s great to see that the boys have done well.
“Northern Ireland had a great result, three from three, and I think that’s the first time they’ve done that.
“All credit to Michael O’Neill, he’s a great manager. There are good coaches and it’s good to see they are bringing in the young players as well.
“I’ve had Under-21 caps all the way up and I was on the bench for the senior squad last September. I just haven’t made an appearance yet.
“I definitely want to get back into that squad.
“Obviously, I want to start picking up points here at Raith and work on my own performances.
“Maybe, at times, I haven’t been as good as I wanted to be, but that’s something I have to worry about and work on myself.
“If Michael O’Neill sees fit to bring me into the squad then so be it. At the minute I’m worrying about picking up points for Raith.”
• More than 200 armed services personnel will attend Ibrox today to honour the men and women of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF as well as forces veterans.