Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson admits his side need to pull themselves together – despite insisting he cannot be too hard on his players for their painful Scottish Cup exit at Hibs.
The Tynecastle outfit lost their first match in ten games in all competition after going down to Jason Cummings’ fourth minute strike in Tuesday’s fifth round replay.
But Hearts remain on course to clinch a Europa League place in their first season back in the top-flight and still have their sights set on catching second place Aberdeen.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to basement side Dundee United, Hearts, who have two games in hand, are 11 points behind the Dons.
And Neilson insists there is no time to wallow in self-pity following a bitterly disappointing night at the home of their fierce city rivals.
Neilson, who could welcome back captain Alim Ozturk for the trip to Tannadice after the defender was suspended for the cup tie, said: “Everyone was devastated. It was a big, big game for us and we failed but we’ve still got a league to go and compete in and we have to pull ourselves together and try to go to Dundee United and get a win.
“We need to focus on the league, it’s a big game up there. We have to accept it and take it on the chin.”
Neilson admitted that Blazej Augustyn’s ordering off was ‘shocking’ after the defender was shown a second yellow card by referee John Beaton for ‘throwing the ball away’.
But despite the loss, Neilson, whose team had two goals disallowed for offside, insists he could not question his players’ commitment during an incident-packed derby at Easter Road.
He added: “I thought they all played well. I look at it and I couldn’t really criticise anyone for their work rate, their belief to go and win the game.
“Sometimes you don’t get the rub of the green when the ball comes in. Juanma has three or four chances when it comes across the face of the goal and we don’t finish it.
“We spoke at length during the week about switching the play and when we did that we caused Hibs problems – that’s the way you beat Hibs. You switch the play.
“In the second half we did it a lot better and created numerous opportunities and should have scored but we didn’t.
“Fair play to Hibs, they hung in there.”