BY DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Head coach Robbie Neilson insists the League Cup is important to Hearts, and reckons it will be to Celtic too.
The Premiership rivals lock horns at Tynecastle on Wednesday for a place in the semi-final.
And even though the clash comes in the middle of two crucial midweek Europa League matches for Celtic against Norwegian outfit Molde, Neilson still expects the Hoops to give everything in a competition that is probably at the bottom of their list of priorities.
Neilson, whose side secured a point in last month’s goal-less draw at Parkhead, said: “It does not matter how things are going at Celtic, every game they have to win.
“They have Dundee United on Sunday and have to win that, and they have us on Wednesday night.They won’t be taking their foot off the gas at all, they’ll be wanting to try and win.
“We want to go all the way but the league is the priority. The cup is really important for us this year, both of them.
“To get a run in it is good for the fans, it’s good for the players and also financially for the club.
“It’s important to try and win these games. We’ve got Celtic at home and we’ve got them again on Boxing Day.
“If we can get a result on Wednesday night it will set us up nicely for that one as well.”
A dismal defensive display from Celtic saw Ronny Deila’s side punished in a 3-1 defeat to Molde on Thursday but Neilson insists the Hoops rearguard is still a formidable barrier for teams in Scotland.
“We didn’t manage to expose their defence at Parkhead but hopefully here we can try and do it.
“They’ve got good players, a good squad. They’ll be coming on Wednesday night as the favourites to beat us.
“They’re the champions – four-in-a-row, dominating Scotland for a long time.
“We need to make sure they don’t expose us first of all and then try and win the game from there.
“We had a good defensive display through there but we hope to play against Celtic in the future and try and dominate them.
“But it’s going to take us a while to do that, we’ve got a long way to go. Ultimately we want to try and produce a team that can go there and win.”