KEVIN Kyle has told Hearts that Celtic are not invincible as the two clubs prepare to lock horns in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final – and believes the Edinburgh side can capitalise on the newly-crowned SPL champions’ title-winning hangover.
The striker, who agreed to terminate his Tynecastle contract last month as he continues his bid to overcome a career-threatening hip injury, accepts that with Celtic having eased to a 4-0 win in Edinburgh two months ago they are strong favourites to inflict a similar fate on Paulo Sergio’s side at Hampden.
However, he points out that Hearts got the better of Neil Lennon’s team in the SPL back in October and said: “It will obviously be a hard game, but hopefully Celtic have had a massive party after winning the league and they’re a bit hungover.
“I think from Hearts’ point of view, there is no reason to fear them, they’re not invincible. Hearts beat Celtic earlier this season and have to realise that they’re one game away from getting to a Scottish Cup final.
“You have to go out and play without any fear like Kilmarnock did in the League Cup final.”
Kilmarnock’s cup final victory may have done Hearts few favours, however, with Celtic’s hopes of maintaining a challenge for the treble ended that day.
Their determination to win the double will likely have been intensified, and they certainly showed a hunger for the fray by exacting revenge on Kilmarnock on Saturday with a 6-0 win at Rugby Park.
Nevertheless, Kyle said: “You would have to think as well that whoever wins this game will be favourites to lift the trophy with Aberdeen and Hibs in the other semi. It’s a great chance for Hearts and I’m sure that’s what the manager will be stressing to the players.”
Kyle, who has four weeks left of his rehabilitation programme having been sidelined since January last year, added: “I suppose it can appear a scary prospect going up against Celtic in the semi-final of a national competition.
“There will be a bigger crowd than what they’re used to but guys like Andy Webster will be talking and guiding the young players through it. There are also people like Marius Zaliukas and Rudi Skacel.
“It’s the kind of game that you have to be clinical because you won’t get many chances. You have to grasp the moment.”