HEARTS striker Gavin Reilly believes home advantage can prove crucial to the Tynecastle club’s hopes of ousting holders Celtic from the League Cup next month.
In the pick of the quarter-final ties drawn at Hampden yesterday, Hearts will host the Scottish champions in a fixture likely to be televised live by BBC Scotland.
The last eight will also feature a Highland derby with Inverness Caledonian Thistle at home to Ross County. Hibs will take on Dundee United at Easter Road, while Morton welcome St Johnstone to Cappielow. The ties are due to take place on 27 and 28 October.
Reilly admits playing Celtic is the most daunting assignment Hearts could have faced but insists they will take confidence from their 0-0 draw in the league at Parkhead on Saturday and the atmosphere which will be created by a sell-out Tynecastle crowd.
“Tynecastle is an intimidating place to come,” said Reilly. “I played there with Queen of the South last season and the stands are so close to the pitch it’s almost as if the fans are breathing on you. It will be a hostile environment for the Celtic players so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.
“It possibly wasn’t the draw we were looking for, but it’s a home tie for us and we back ourselves at a packed Tynecastle. We go into every game believing we can win and from getting a good point away to Celtic on Saturday, we can hopefully go on and win this game in the cup.
“Every game under the floodlights is a wee bit special and Celtic at our place makes it all the more special. It’s the quarter-finals of the cup and a place at Hampden for the winners. We can believe we can win and I do because of the squad we have. A cup run is good for any club. The fans will be looking for a trip to Hampden. It gives this game spice and something to look forward to away from league duty. A cup would be great for the club, especially after winning the Championship last season. Some more silverware in the cabinet would be great.
“Hearts is a great place to be at the moment. We are doing well in the league and, while we dipped a bit after the five wins at the start of the season, we got a good point at Celtic on Saturday. We are in a good place. We are quietly confident and go into every game believing we can win.”
Celtic knocked Hearts out of both domestic cup competitions last season – winning 3-0 at Parkhead in the League Cup and then 4-0 at Tynecastle in the Scottish Cup – but coach John Kennedy expects a more closely-contested affair this time.
“When it comes to this stage of the draw, there are a lot of tough games available and it comes no tougher than away to Hearts,” said Kennedy. “It will be a great match when it comes around.
“We were convincing in our victories over them in the cups last season but I think they showed at the weekend, especially in the second half, they are defensively very well organised.
“We found them difficult to break down. We should have taken our chances in the first half but didn’t.
“Robbie Neilson has got them very organised and disciplined. Although they didn’t cause us too many problems coming forward, they are very difficult to play against. Based on last season, when we scored a few goals against them, it’s a
lesson they have learned,
“Tynecastle is somewhere I always enjoyed playing. The fans are right on top of you and our support always take up their full allocation. It will be a great game and that’s what you want in Scottish football. If it’s on TV, then it looks so much better.”
l Hearts defender Callum Paterson picked up a one-match ban in Saturday’s draw with Celtic. The full-back was booked for a foul on James Forrest which took him through the disciplinary threshhold and he will miss the trip to Dundee United on 18 October.