“It’s no disrespect to anyone else in the play-offs, but we want Hibs in the league,” said the 33-year-old, echoing the sentiments expressed by owner Ann Budge this week.
“I got a taste of the derby in the cup games and the atmosphere, at Tynecastle especially, was incredible. It was one of the reasons I wanted to come to the club. When I signed, Hibs were very much at the forefront of promotion but it’s been a long season and they’ve tailed off a bit. If they can get back into the Premiership, it would be great not just for Hearts, but for everyone. No disrespect to anyone else.”
The midfielder, who will spend some of his summer adding to his coaching qualifications and is relishing the chance to sample European football for the first time in his career when the new season starts, made his debut against Hibs. He thought he knew what to expect, the reality was more thrilling, even if the cup tie ultimately did not go the Gorgie club’s way.
“I watched many a derby on TV and thought I was aware of the tension between the two clubs but when you actually experience it yourself, you realise how much is on the line. I’d love to taste that again.”
With or without Hibs, next term already promises the mouthwatering prospect of Europa League qualifiers and the return of Rangers to the Premiership, while champions-elect Celtic will also have a new manager at the helm.Cowie’s former boss Malky Mackay is one of those being linked with the job.
“Three times I ended up working with him [at Watford, Cardiff and Wigan]. He’s a very detailed manager. He really plans ahead and gets a team working hard for the badge. He’s about commitment and has a good man-management style. He obviously has that affinity with Celtic and it’s only natural that he is getting linked with it. He had a very successful spell.
“Things turned a wee bit sour off the pitch, but I’ve got every faith that he’ll come back at some stage and be a great manager again. I had a great spell under him that ended with me making the Premiership with Cardiff. The manner in which he won the Championship shows that he can make a team successful.”