BY IAIN COLLIN –[email protected]_sport
CONOR Sammon insists Hearts will channel their Europa League disappointment and criticism ‘in the right way’ to ensure they recover from the bitter blow in time for the league kick-off.
Sammon’s 73rd-minute header was one bright note on a depressing night for the Gorgie outfit and the rest of Scottish football as they crashed out at the second qualifying round with a surprise 2-1 defeat to Maltese minnows Birkirkara.
The 29-year-old former Kilmarnock striker still incurred the wrath of some hurting Hearts fans, however, as the PA announcement of him being awarded one of the sponsors’ man of the match accolades was greeted with loud boos.
Further jeering greeted the full-time whistle as the Tynecastle support made their anger over the shock result clear.
However, Sammon, a summer signing, is convinced Robbie Neilson’s under-performing squad have the characters to bounce back as they build up to their Premiership opener against Celtic in a fortnight’s time.
He said: “I think the criticism is merited. It’s a negative result for us, first of all, and for Scottish football. We want to be progressing as far as we can in the European competitions, going through the rounds and having success.
“So, we understand the criticism that is going to come our way.
“We, as players, are our own worst critics. We know when we haven’t played well, we know when we’ve had an off night and when we’ve made mistakes.
“It’s up to us, as players, to take that criticism on the chin and channel it the right way, to keep working hard and stick together as a group.
“I’m only new to the group, having just signed quite recently, but I know the characters we have in that dressing room.
“We’ll undoubtedly channel this in the right way and move on from it. We will grow from this experience.”