Hearts boss Craig Levein has stressed the importance of switching their focus to Saturday’s clash with St Mirren after an emotionally-draining week that yielded two important victories.
The Jambos came from behind to beat fierce rivals Hibernian in last Sunday’s Edinburgh derby before booking their place in the Betfred Cup semi-finals with a penalty shoot-out victory over Aberdeen in midweek.
Those results have helped to ease the pressure on Levein, who was heavily criticised after Hearts took just two points from their first five Ladbrokes Premiership games.
Next up is a trip to Paisley and a game that provides a very different test, and Levein wants his players to give the clash their full attention rather than thinking about the week that has just gone.
He said: “Playing two matches like we played that have other things attached to them – getting into the semi-final for the Aberdeen game and beating our biggest rivals in the Hibs game – those are emotionally quite difficult to deal with, those situations.
“And we now face a different challenge and I’m trying to make sure that our focus is just as intense because there won’t be the same atmosphere, noise or excitement surrounding this particular match.
“I just need to keep everybody’s minds from wandering and keep focused on what we need to do to win the game.
“Playing on the Wednesday and then on the Saturday is quite tricky. We’ve got quite a few tired players but injuries-wise I don’t think we’ve got anything to add.
“We played 120 minutes and didn’t have anyone coming off with an injury, that’s a cause for celebration.”
Levein believes Hearts’ recent wins will gain extra significance if they can keep their run going at St Mirren but he knows that is not going to be easy.
“The next game is always the one that matters because, although the two good results recently are pleasing, they only become even more important if we can get the next victory,” added Levein.
“We need to go to Paisley which is extremely difficult, we haven’t won there for quite a while, and we need to put on a good show and show the same level of performance that we’ve shown the last couple of games.
“If we do that, I’ll be happy and hopefully it’s enough to win us the game.
“We’ve not got the swagger yet but the feet aren’t so heavy and the minds are a bit clearer.
“The evidence of the last two games tells us we’re picking up confidence-wise.
“It’s a completely different situation tomorrow. Jim (Goodwin) has got his team well organised. I watched Alloa a few times last year and thought they were excellently organised and he’s done the same with St Mirren.
“They beat Aberdeen at home not so long ago and Rangers just won 1-0 there so there is plenty of evidence to say that going there is not going to be an easy situation for us.”
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