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Match Preview

Hearts v Partick Thistle – 12th March 2019

It’s another midweek fixture for Thistle tonight as they travel through to the capital to take on Heart of Midlothian for the second time in eight days. Having more than matched Hearts, particularly in the second half last week, there is a confident feeling around the Thistle camp at the moment.

Although he realises it will certainly be a challenge, Jags boss Gary Caldwell, insists his side aren’t just there to make up the numbers. With a chance to book a visit to Hampden the gaffer sat down with to look ahead to the tie.

Caldwell started by reflecting briefly on the first tie at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.

“I thought we matched them, I really did. Particularly in the second half I thought we played some really good football and created chances. In truth we could maybe have nicked it at the death but we were definitely good value for a draw.

“It has given us this opportunity to go to Tynecastle and earn a place in the semi final but it won’t be easy and we know that. We know what to expect from them and we have to be prepared in exactly the same way we were on Monday night. If we are able to do that then we have a really good chance.”

It was an injury hit squad that took to the field the last time out against Hearts and, thankfully, things are looking much better for tonight’s tie.

“I am delighted to say we have a fully fit squad. With the exception of Tam O’Ware we have a fully green squad list which means everyone is fit and everyone has trained which is great. Recently we have had four or five injuries which were small muscle injuries which is frustrating but the physio and medical department worked extremely hard and everyone is fit for an important time of the season which is good.

“Unfortunately Tam still isn’t quite on that list but his recovery is going really well, he’s working extremely hard, and he’s been a massive help to me and Brian around the squad. He’s done bits of scouting for us and has obviously been coaching with the Academy as well, so he’s been fantastic considering he’s not been able to play, and he’s working really hard to get close to fitness.”

It has undoubtedly been a tough season so far for the Jags but by earning a replay when many had written his side off and with the last minute heroics on Saturday the gaffer knows things can change very quickly.

“It is I think that’s football. I think when you have been in football you realise that one week can change a season, one moment can change things. We have had a difficult few years as a club and we just have to keep fighting, improving and getting better, and these moments like Saturday and Monday night can turn everything. You can go on an upwards turn quite quickly. We just have to keep working on that.”

Tynecastle is a favourite of supporters and players alike but it isn’t a stadium the Jags boss has particularly fond memories of. It was always a game I looked forward to in terms of the atmosphere though. Obviously having played for Hibs, and Celtic at Tynecastle it was always big games, their crowd was always very vocal, they support the team, and get behind the players. I think it’s important that you are ready for that initial period of the game. The first 20-30 mins where they will throw everything at us and we need to be prepared for that.”

Hearts have had plaudits and criticism in almost equal measure for their physical style of play and it is something the entire Jags squad will be aware of.

“I think they have always been physical, even since I played against them. They are a physical side that put you under pressure and make you defend, and we have to stand up to that challenge.

“I believe we did it in the first game very well. For those first 30 minutes I felt we could have passed the ball better in terms of defending and dealing with their physicality but they only had 3 shots on target all night and that shows how well we defended and we will have to do the same again.

“We know what prize is on offer for the winner and it is a fantastic opportunity for us to write a bit of history. We aren’t just here to make up the numbers we are her to make a semi final and that is what we intend to do.”

More exclusive preview interviews with Conor Hazard and Jags manager, Gary Caldwell, are available to Jagzone subscribers – log in now to see them.

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