Hearts in better shape for Celtic cup meetings - Robbie Neilson

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Juwon Oshaniwa and Tom Rogic
Hearts drew 0-0 at Celtic Park earlier this season
Scottish League Cup: Hearts v Celtic
Date: Wednesday, 28 October Venue: Tynecastle Stadium, Edinburgh Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; live text commentary on BBC Sport website; highlights on BBC Sport website later on Wednesday

Robbie Neilson believes his Hearts team are better equipped to face Celtic in cup competition than last season.

The Tynecastle side lost to Celtic in both the Scottish League Cup and Scottish Cup, conceding seven goals.

Hearts welcome holders Celtic to Tynecastle on Wednesday night with a place in the last four of the Scottish League Cup the prize for the winner.

"The younger players have had a lot more game time and have a bit more experience," said Neilson.

"The players I have brought in have improved the squad so we are in a better place than we were last year."

Celtic beating Hearts in 2014
Celtic won 4-0 on their last visit to Tynecastle - a Scottish Cup fourth-round tie

Neilson watched Celtic put five goals past Dundee United on Sunday and insists his players will be left in no doubt what will be required for them to win Wednesday's quarter-final.

"We will need to be at 100%," said the head coach. "We need to compete and work hard and if we do and do the right things then we can win."

Hearts goalkeeper Neil Alexander is the only current Tynecastle player who has tasted victory over Celtic, having been between the sticks for Rangers in victories over their Old Firm rivals, including a League Cup final in 2011.

"Being at Rangers I played against Celtic a few times and I can remember winning a cup final and a game at Ibrox," said the 37-year-old.

"It's always a tough game against Celtic with a huge atmosphere and its always one to look forward to.

Igor Rossi and Neil Alexander
Alexander (right) always savours games against Celtic

"You always look for the big games in the calendar and no disrespect to other teams in the league but, when the fixtures come out, Celtic is the one you look for.

"Obviously we got drawn against them twice in cups last year and again this year so we are used to it now."

Hearts' record against Celtic is extremely poor having conceded 29 goals in their last eight matches against the Glasgow side. However, they can take confidence from a 0-0 draw at Celtic Park in September.

"Although we rode our luck a wee bit it was a fantastic defensive display," added Alexander.

"So, we go into the game full of confidence off the back of two good league results for us that we needed [defeating Dundee United and Ross County].

"Its the quarter-final of the Cup so everything to play for and obviously at home with a packed Tynecastle and the fans behind us. That place can be intimidating for teams who come so hopefully we can use that to our advantage."

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