BULLISH Jamie MacDonald insists there’s no chance of Hearts considering themselves underdogs in tomorrow’s mouthwatering Scottish Cup showdown with Hibs at Easter Road.
Pat Fenlon’s side are riding high in second place in the SPL, while the inconsistent Tynecastle men languish in the bottom half. It’s all a far cry from six-and-a-half months ago when Hearts were busy celebrating their 5-1 Scottish Cup final victory over their then-beleaguered city rivals. However, MacDonald, the Hearts goalkeeper, is adamant his side won’t have an inferiority complex when they venture across the Capital aiming to extend a remarkable 12-game unbeaten derby run.
He said: “People might look at us as underdogs, but we don’t see it that way. It’s a derby game. Form goes out the window. We are 12 games unbeaten against them and there might be a mental block on the Hibs side of things. I don’t know why we have got on a run. Hopefully we can do that again and get the win.”
While MacDonald has no fears about running out at a more upbeat Easter Road, he does acknowledge that Hibs, with striker Leigh Griffiths in particularly impressive form, are a much-improved team to the one which Hearts have had little trouble against over the past few seasons.
“Hibs have done great,” added the goalkeeper. “The SPL overall has been a strange league, it seems that everybody is beating everyone, which is great because it has made it exciting. Hibs have had a great start to the season and fair play to them, you want good Hearts and Hibs teams because that brings great excitement.
“Griffiths has been fantastic. He has scored 13 goals which is a great achievement in such a short space of time.
“He got a deserved Scotland call-up, so he’ll be buzzing and he’ll want to score against us. It’s my job to try and keep him out, so hopefully I can get a clean sheet and if we can do that, we’ll be halfway there.”
Meanwhile, Hearts manager John McGlynn insists he is in the dark about the club’s claims that they could bring in new players in January if the share initiative and ticket sales continue to bring in much-needed finance over the coming weeks.
The Tynecastle club were said to be at death’s door a few weeks ago, but director Sergejus Fedotovas revealed on Thursday that new players could yet arrive next month if the fans continue to back the club financially.
McGlynn, however, was keen to stress that any new arrivals would be merely to replace departing players, rather than increase the size of the current squad.
“Sergei hasn’t spoken to me about buying players,” he said. “John Murray [director of football] and myself look at players all the time; we drive up and down to England on Monday nights and things like that.
“It wouldn’t matter what level of football I was involved in, I’d be doing that anyway. You’re always looking to the future. If some players have to go we need to replace them with players who are more economical to the football club.
“I think it’s more of a replacement than an investment. You’d need to ask Sergei for more on that though.”
Dylan McGowan and Jason Holt are set to miss tomorrow’s cup tie. The duo sustained injuries in Wednesday night’s
4-0 loss to Celtic and could be facing several weeks on the sidelines.
McGlynn added: “Jason and Dylan are still being assessed. Dylan was struggling immediately [after the Celtic game], but overnight he’d made a good recovery. But it’s hard to say what position is he’s in after the physio initially saying six to eight weeks.
“The same with Jason Holt –he would be two to three weeks with strained ankle ligaments, so unless there’s a remarkable recovery I’d expect both to be out.”