Onwards and upwards now Hearts are off the bottom says Liam Boyce

Liam Boyce insists Hearts are now looking to motor away from danger after getting themselves off the bottom of the Premiership at the 
weekend.

Striker Liam Boyce will bid to score for the third game running when Hearts face Kilmarnock. Picture: SNS.
Striker Liam Boyce will bid to score for the third game running when Hearts face Kilmarnock. Picture: SNS.

The Tynecastle side spent the winter break five points adrift at the foot of the table but have already climbed above Hamilton Accies on goal difference after going unbeaten in their three league games since the campaign resumed.

They are still three points adrift of third-bottom St Mirren but, with the entire bottom six separated by only eight points, there is a clear chance for Hearts to start moving up the table if they can develop some consistency.

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“It’s been brilliant to get off the bottom,” said Boyce. “We know that we don’t have to worry about anyone else’s results – it’s about what we do. We were disappointed with the second half [against St Johnstone] on Saturday, but the goal at the end made it feel a bit better. We can’t be looking at other teams’ games and hoping that they drop points. We want to focus on ourselves and stick to our gameplan. If we win games, we won’t have to worry about anyone else.”

Boyce, who joined Hearts from Burton Albion on the eve of the recent home win over Rangers, insists he was always confident his new team could get themselves to safety.

“Obviously I have played in Scotland before against these players and you know how good they are,” said the former Ross County striker. “I was talking to Scotty Fraser who has been in Scotland and we still followed Scottish football down in England, so we knew how good this Hearts squad is.

“Hopefully the quality can come to the fore and we can win games and get up the table.”

Boyce is revelling in manager Daniel Stendel’s high-intensity style of football although he admits Saturday’s 3-3 draw in Perth shows there is still plenty to work on.

“The way we play is very intense,” he said. “We try to win the ball high up the pitch and get chances. We scored two against Rangers and three in the last match so we’ve been scoring goals. We just need to work harder to try to stop conceding.

“We just need to execute the plan better. The players are maybe used to playing a different way, not the way he wants, so we just need to concentrate for the whole game and keep doing what he wants us to do.

“When we do that, we win it back and we do get chances and keep teams penned into their own half. Once it went against us in the second half on Saturday, it took us a while to realise what to do and get back into the game. When it went 3-2, they dropped a bit deeper and sort of let us back into the game, but if we stick to the game plan for the whole 90 minutes, we’ll be 
looking good.”

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Boyce, who will aim to score in his third consecutive game for Hearts at home to Kilmarnock this evening, says he has never before played in a team that operates the way Stendel’s does.

“Nah, this is completely different for me,” he said. “It’s the first time going into so much detail in terms of what you have to do off the ball as well as on it. It’s way different to anything I’ve been used to. Usually if teams get a lead, they drop in, try to hold on to it and hit on the counter. But we’re still pressing and trying to score more goals and put the game to bed.”