HEARTS midfielder Ryan Stevenson has advised his team-mates to secure third place inside the next nine days and avoid a final-day European confrontation with Dundee United at Tannadice.
Following Saturday's 2-2 draw at Kilmarnock, Hearts sit eight points ahead of United in the SPL table. They face an Old Firm double header against Rangers at Ibrox this Saturday and Celtic at Tynecastle the following Wednesday before travelling to Dundee for the final game of the season.
United host Motherwell this weekend and then meet Rangers at Ibrox.
Stevenson admitted the final weeks of the campaign have become more fraught than anyone at Tynecastle planned, admitting that other clubs may be required to assist Hearts in their quest for third.
"We've got a very difficult run-in now, with both Old Firm clubs then Dundee United away. It really couldn't get much harder than that.
We're maybe looking for other teams to do us a favour," he said.
"We go to Ibrox on Saturday and hopefully we can get the result we need to get over the line. We don't want it to go to the last game, we want to get it finished as soon as possible. From our point of view, we don't want to go to Tannadice on the last day of the season. It could be squeaky-bum time then.
"To be playing for third and a place in Europe would be the biggest game of my career, but it's one I would quite happily miss. We have been in winning positions and let it slip. We've been playing well but have been stumbling at the last hurdle."
Meanwhile, David Templeton has won the Hearts Young Player of the Year award, with Denis Prychynenko named Under-19 Player of the Year.
Callum Paterson triumphed in the Under-17 category.