Scottish League Cup: Hamill eager for ICT clash

Hearts celebrate dumping rivals Hibs out of the league cup. Picture: SNS
Hearts celebrate dumping rivals Hibs out of the league cup. Picture: SNS
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HEARTS midfielder Jamie Hamill believes setting up a League Cup semi-final against Inverness can kick-start their season as he continued to revel in their derby victory.

• Hearts drawn to face Inverness while Aberdeen will play St Johnstone

The administration-hit club’s reward for dumping Hibernian out of the tournament is a repeat of their last-four clash last season while Aberdeen will play St Johnstone in the other tie.

Hearts could face a return to Easter Road on February 1-2 after beating Caley Thistle on penalties at that venue earlier this year before losing to St Mirren in the final.

And Hamill could not resist a dig at his city rivals after helping secure some much-needed joy for the Hearts fans.

Hamill said: “It’s great to have a repeat of last year’s semi-final. It’s in February so it’s still a wee while away and hopefully we can pick up a few points between now and then.

“I wouldn’t like to be in Hibs’ shoes at the moment. When you can come to Hampden and be a part of the draw, it’s really good and hopefully we can have more of the same in the next round.”

Hearts returned to the 15-points deficit they started the season with following their 2-0 defeat by Kilmarnock last weekend, which left them with just a point from their last seven Scottish Premiership games.

But Hamill believes their unexpected cup triumph can spark a revival among Gary Locke’s youthful side.

“The gaffer had drilled into us that the Hibs game could be a turning point for us,” he said.

“(Winning the cup) would be a massive achievement with the situation we are in and the administration.

“It’s a difficult one. The gaffer is on a tight budget as well at the moment with the squad. But hopefully this can kick-start the season and we can pick up results.

“Being in the semi-final of the cup with the squad we’ve got at the moment is really good.”

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes suspected he would face his former club after his side recovered from Joe Shaughnessy’s early red card to win 2-0 at Motherwell.

“I had a funny feeling we might have got St Johnstone,” he said. “When it comes round we have just got to make sure we are in a good frame of mind. It’s three months away, which is a bit bizarre but hopefully we can be on decent form going into it.

“There is plenty to keep us busy but it’s nice to have that on the backburner, that we’ve got a semi-final to look forward to and the players deserve that opportunity, and results and performances like last night certainly help us going forward.”

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright, whose side won 1-0 at Morton, added: “Whoever we got was going to be tough. Probably of the four clubs that are left in, Aberdeen are the biggest club and probably the bookies’ favourites so it will be a difficult tie.

“We haven’t won the League Cup or Scottish Cup so to get to the final or win the final would be tremendous.

“When we told the players last night that it wasn’t until February 1-2, they were a wee bit disappointed. So they have got something to look forward to.

“There is a long way to go before then and there is a transfer window so both squads could change before then.”

The semi-final ties will be played on the weekend of February 1 and 2, at venues which have yet to be confirmed. The final is scheduled for Sunday, March 16.