BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Jamie Walker insists he was desperate to beat the downpour at the weekend – but he hopes Hearts’ enforced lay-off will help create the perfect storm in tonight’s Edinburgh derby.
Walker is returning to fitness after knee surgery and, after scoring in midweek against Ross County, was keen to add to his game-time with another outing against Partick Thistle.
But, whilst personally disappointed by the Tynecastle postponement, the 22-year-old reckons it could give the Jambos the upper-hand when they cross the city for their mouthwatering Scottish Cup replay against Hibernian.
As Hearts put their feet up and watched on TV, their bitter rivals struggled to a goalless draw on a heavy pitch and in terrible overhead conditions at Livingston.
Walker, who played the last eight minutes of the 2-2 draw with Hibs 10 days ago, said: “I got a good wee run-out against Hibs in the cup game and 75 minutes under my belt against Ross County.
“Personally, I was disappointed our game was off at the weekend but this is a big one and everybody is looking forward to it.
“We got a good rest at the weekend, which could make a difference, but I would like to have played and got more minutes under my belt.
“It does give us a slight advantage, though. They might be a bit more tired, but when it comes to the game then they will all be up for it, just like us.
“I watched their game. It wasn’t one of their better performances but Alan Stubbs will have them up for it.”
The bookmakers have made Hibs favourites after they stormed back from 2-0 down at Tynecastle to snatch a replay with a late header from Jason Cummings and Paul Hanlon’s dramatic injury-time equaliser.
Walker was thrown on in difficult circumstances as Hearts struggled to stem the flow of the tie towards their goal in the closing stages.
However, he is confident they can finish the job, and set up a home quarter-final against cup holders Inverness Caley Thistle, after being given a second chance.
He added: “We were gutted to concede the last minute goal but we’ve got the replay to look forward now.
“Fair play to Hibs, they put us on the back-foot and we couldn’t get up the pitch. They deserved their goals and they go into this one on a high too.
“I think the pressure’s on them but it’s a derby game and anything can happen. I don’t think anyone is favourite for the game.
“We’ll go down there, we know it’ll be a good atmosphere and I’m sure it’ll be a good game.
“Hibs did well last year and they’ve improved so much since Alan Stubbs came in. They’re a good side but we’re confident going into the game.”