Craig Levein: Hearts full of confidence for semi-final meeting with Celtic

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland
Hearts forward Steven Naismith is looking forward to taking on Celtic
In-form Hearts forward Steven Naismith is looking forward to taking on Celtic
League Cup semi-final: Hearts v Celtic
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Date: Sunday 28 October Kick-off: 13:30 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Manager Craig Levein insists Hearts have "a good chance" of beating Celtic on Sunday and reaching their first cup final since 2013.

The teams meet at Murrayfield in the last four of the League Cup, with almost 60,000 tickets sold.

Hearts enjoy a six-point lead at the top of the Premiership and defeated Celtic at Tynecastle in August.

"The players are confident and our games against Celtic recently have been close," said Levein.

"We have recent experience of winning and both teams have got injuries and will miss some good players. But I think we have a good chance of winning this game."

Brendan Rodgers has won every domestic trophy since he became Celtic manager in the summer of 2016, with Levein joking that it was time to allow other clubs a chance of lifting silverware.

"They can afford not to win this one," he said. "It's being greedy isn't it?

"Celtic have been fantastic. This season they haven't started quite as well as they have in previous seasons but they are still in every competition.

"They look like they are finding their form in the league on the last couple of performances and results. But I think that we are better and that's what gives me more confidence."

Hearts eased to victory at Dundee on Tuesday, while Celtic were well-beaten away to RB Leipzig in the Europa League on Thursday.

'Older heads can bring calmness'

"We've shown that we have the fight and the quality in the squad," said experienced striker Steven Naismith.

"The biggest difference this season is that we have a lot of hungry players who, not matter the occasion, just want to go out and do well.

"We've also got a lot of older heads who have been there and done it, who know what to expect, know what it takes - and hopefully that will bring a calmness for us."

The match was moved to Edinburgh after widespread criticism of the SPFL's original plan to host both games at Hampden on Sunday.

Hearts, who were beaten by St Mirren in the 2013 League Cup final, played four games at Scotland's home of rugby last season during the redevelopment of their Tynecastle home.

"I'm really looking forward to it," said Levein. "It's the biggest match of our season so far and the very nature of where it is and the size of the crowd I think will make it a truly fantastic experience for everybody.

"We have not had any games in front of 60,000 people or over that. I think it will be a great spectacle."

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