Hearts’ delay flag unfurling until after Arbroath

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The unfurling of the league flag will have to wait a few more days but the fact that Hearts’ first competitive game will be played out minus that pomp and circumstance is probably fitting.

Tonight, the full focus will be on engineering safe passage in the League Cup. The game may be sandwiched between such challenges as a friendly against Everton and a return to the top flight, against St Johnstone, but facing Arbroath, at Tynecastle, there will be no distractions.

Hearts midfielder Morgaro Gomis hopes his side can go on a cup run this season after early exits in both competitions last term. Picture: SNS

Hearts midfielder Morgaro Gomis hopes his side can go on a cup run this season after early exits in both competitions last term. Picture: SNS

Which is the way the club want it. If Arbroath is as different a prospect as they could imagine from English Premier League opposition, so is their attitude to the cups from last season to this one.

“I think it’s important to do well in the cups,” said midfielder Morgaro Gomis. “It’s hard to win the Premiership but the cups give you a chance to win something.”

Last season they had their eyes firmly fixed on the Championship title and delivered it with aplomb but repeating that feat in the top tier this year is nigh on impossible. Which is why the knockout competitions have taken on greater significance.

“When you play in the cup you just never know; anything can happen,” said the man who won the Scottish Cup with Dundee United in 2010. “It would be nice to go as far as we can.

“Last season was disappointing in the cups but we weren’t very lucky in the draw – we got Celtic in both cups, which makes it a hard game straight away.

“But we’ll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens this time. I think any team can do it, just sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t.”

A win against the Gayfield Park side would not only keep their cup dreams ticking over, it would allow them to head into their weekend league opener in buoyant spirits, which is another reason Gomis is happy to delay the flag unfurling for a few days and get the job done tonight.

“It’s a cup game, so we’ll need to go out and play and win the game, and go through to the next round,” he said. “Then we will focus on what will happen on Sunday.

“But, we’ll think about this first. If we win the game it will give us confidence and it will be easy for us to go and play the game on Sunday. We’ll do our best to do that.”

There is an obvious disparity in class between their most recent opposition, Everton, and the Scottish League 2 side but Gomis says the fact this is the first competitive match of the new campaign will concentrate minds, while the warm-up against Roberto Martinez’s men has helped hone their sharpness.

“It’s always nice when you play against big-name players and a team like Everton,” Gomis added.

“You learn from that, from playing against teams like that. Hopefully we can take it into our own game week-in, week-out in the Premiership this season.

“You can see the difference. They are really composed on the ball and they know their jobs. It’s something we need to look at and learn from. It was good to play against them.

“We won’t be expecting Arbroath to play like Everton. It won’t be the same kind of game but we’ll just have to come out and try and do our best to win the game.”

The Gorgie club have had issues with injuries curtailing preparations and while Gomis and Prince Buaben are back, the former admits he is still short of full match fitness and welcomes the extra game time.

“I’ve missed most of the pre-season games. I played the first game in Ireland for 45 minutes and after that I was injured, then I played against Everton. So, it’s been a bit stop and start, but I feel good,” he said.

“I had a thigh injury and the manager told me to just rest. Then I was working with the physio and I’ve been working really hard,. My fitness is getting better. I’m 80 or 85 per cent fit, so hopefully at the weekend I will be ready.

“I think it’s the first time I’ve been at a club when there’s been so many injuries but fingers crossed most of the boys will be back soon and we can push on and try to win games.

“It’s difficult because you want to try and get some rhythm and some momentum in pre-season, but at the same time we’ve got a big squad and some young players coming through and it’s an opportunity for other players to come in and try to stay in the team. Then you have to fight for your position and try and do your best.”