Former Hearts boss Robbie Neilson backs old club for derby success against Hibs

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Former Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson reckons his old club will have no problems making amends for last season’s Scottish Cup defeat to Hibs if they perform like they did against Rangers.

The Tynecastle side produced their best performance of Ian Cathro’s reign after blowing their Govan counterparts away in an emphatic 4-1 victory last Wednesday, and followed it up with Saturday’s 3-0 success at Motherwell.

Last February’s Scottish Cup Edinburgh derby did not go as planned for Neilson as Hibs, who went on to lift the trophy for the first time in 114-years, came out on top in the replay after fighting back from being two goals down in the first match.

However, MK Dons manager Neilson has backed successor Cathro, who added nine new signings in January, to avenge that disappointing defeat.

Speaking to Capital City Press, he said: “If they can produce the same performance like the showed against Rangers then I’m pretty sure they can get through the round.

“The performances have been good in the last two games and it was a massive result against Rangers.

“I watched the game and I was really impressed. I thought the new guys came in and did fantastically well and the guys that have been there for a while performed well also.

“I didn’t see the Motherwell game but I heard they played well in that one as well.

“One of the important things about going into the derby is that you’re on form and I think Hearts are form.

“It’s huge results going into the derby and I imagine they will be full of confidence, the fans have seen good performances home and away.”

Hampden

Hibs’ historic Hampden victory over Rangers in May compounded last year’s derby defeat for Hearts fans and Neilson admits the Easter Road set-back was hard to take.

He added: “It was a disappointing result, you always want to win every single derby but that cup one was disappointing one for us.

“But now it’s an opportunity to make amends for it.

“People were disappointed we didn’t progress from that one last year but hopefully they can do it this year.

“The derby is always one you look for and with it being the Scottish Cup, hopefully Hearts can get a good result and progress through.”

Following a difficult start, Neilson is thrilled that his former club are now heading in the right direction under Cathro.

He added: “Ian has got them playing the way he wants them to play. He’s come in as a new coach with new ideas and it’s about trying to implement them but also trying to get the players to buy into it and hopefully that can happen and the club can progress.

“I’m delighted for Ian but also for the club. I had a great time there and when you leave a club you want them to progress as well.

“You want them to keep going and progressing. We did that in the last two years and hopefully it’s there again.

“I saw the other day that the truss went up for the new main stand, so it just shows the progression that’s been made there. It’s exciting for the club. I had a great time but now it’s Ian’s turn to have a great time as well.”

Overhaul

Neilson, meanwhile, insists he has no issues with Cathro overhauling the Hearts squad that he left behind when he made the move to MK Dons at the tail end of last year.

Aaron Hughes, Andraz Struna, Lennard Sowah, Malaury Martin, Esmael Goncavles, Alexandros Tziolis. Tasos Avlonitis, Moha El Ouriachi Choulay and Dylan Bikey were all recruited during the January transfer window.

Neilson added: “There’s no surprise with the changes in January, with every squad you have to change things about and going into that window I expected a few changes.

“That’s part of football. In the summer you make big changes, and you get to the January one and assess it again.

“I’ve done it down here as well, we’ve got four new players and I’m looking to bring in a couple more.”

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