RYAN STEVENSON today spelled out Hearts’ target between now and the end of the season – to finish above Hibs.
The Jambos go into the final five SPL matches after the split in a far more positive mood after coming back from 2-1 down to defeat Ross County 4-2 at Tynecastle on Saturday to move into tenth in the league and, with Hibs’ slot in the bottom-six now confirmed, Stevenson wants Hearts to take as many points as possible and finish above their neighbours to give something back to their supporters.
“For us, the target now is to finish seventh,” revealed Stevenson. “We want to finish as high as we can and with as many points as we can.
“Obviously, the added spice is that we’re three points behind Hibs. We want to try and finish above them. I keep hearing that they [ninth-placed Hibs] have had a great season, but we’re only three points behind them, so it obviously says a lot that there isn’t that much in it.
“It’s been a disappointing season, so that would be the one thing that could give the fans a bit of a lift if we finish above them. For them, it’s been a hellish year.”
Stevenson captained Hearts for the first time on Saturday in the absence of the injured Andy Webster and the 28-year-old midfielder chalked up the moment as one of the proudest of his career. He revealed that after leaving Tynecastle for Ipswich Town under a cloud last year during a period of wage delays, he could have never envisaged coming back to the club and leading out the side. It’s a proud moment for me being captain,” he continued. “There have been a couple of proud moments in my career, like being called up for Scotland, but what happened on Saturday was a massive thing for me.
“Sitting 1-0 down and then 2-1 down, you’re thinking, ‘this is going to get snapped right back off me’, so to be captain and to get a win will always be a massive moment in my career.
“I could never imagine coming back and sitting here as captain.
“Since I’ve come back, I’ve tried my hardest to play for the jersey and show the fans that I obviously want to be here. I’ve signed a long contract and I love it here.”
Hearts now go into the remaining five SPL matches five points behind seventh-placed Kilmarnock. The post-split fixtures were due to be announced today, with Hearts expected to host the Edinburgh derby against Hibs, Aberdeen and St Mirren, with away matches at Dundee and Kilmarnock.