PAUL HARTLEY played under Craig Levein and with Neil Lennon – and knows both will be ready to ‘do battle’ in the heat of the Edinburgh derby.
But, despite describing the duelling duo as ‘fierce characters’, he reckons peace could break out on the touchline at Easter Road.
Lennon was angered by Levein’s jibe that ‘natural order’ had been restored in the capital by Hearts’ Scottish Cup win over their rivals in January – the Jambos’ first success in the fixture in 10 attempts.
The Easter Road boss was keen to play down the spat this week but Levein has been in no mood to back down as he talked up the importance of beating Hibs.
And Hartley admits all eyes will be on the dugouts to see how both managers react to the clash.
The former Hearts, Hibs and Celtic midfielder said: “There’s been a lot of talk in the last few weeks after the Hearts win in the Scottish Cup.
“I’m sure Lenny will have a point to prove
“It will be interesting to watch the two managers on the sidelines.
“I worked under Craig and I played with Lenny, who was then one of the coaches [at Celtic], and they’re both fierce characters.
“They’ll be ready for it and ready to do battle
“But I’m sure there will be a little bit of calmness on the touchline!”
Hearts, knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Motherwell on Sunday, go into the encounter in sixth place in the table and nine points adrift of Hibs in the table.
And Hartley believes that means the pressure is on the visitors to come out on top.
The Falkirk manager added: “I think it will be a tight game.
“It’s been difficult for Hearts going to Easter Road in the last little while.
“They’ve always had a good record overall in the derby games, but it’s a big game for Hearts.
“I think they need to win the game.”