STV Sport sponsored by Papa Johns

Hearts attacker Josh Ginnelly not giving up hope of European progress

A win against the Latvian champions could set up a thrilling final match.

Hearts attacker Josh Ginnelly not giving up hope of Europa Conference League progress SNS Group

Josh Ginnelly is hoping Hearts can set up a potentially “crazy” finale to their Europa Conference League group by defeating RFS at Tynecastle in their penultimate match on Thursday.

The Jambos are currently four points adrift of second-placed Fiorentina in Group A and must win their last two matches – and hope the Italian side take no more than a point from their closing two fixtures – in order to reach the knockout phase.

Although it is a long shot, Ginnelly is determined to beat the Latvian champions in Edinburgh and try to ensure the battle for qualification at least goes down to next week, when they travel to Turkey to face section leaders Istanbul Basaksehir.

“Any game that we play, especially at home, we want to win and of course we want to go through,” the 25-year-old winger said. “We just need to get this game (against RFS) out of the way. We need to get the result and then see what happens.

“It’s football and we have all seen some crazy things happen. It’s just about taking it game by game.

“We need the fans, we need everybody pulling in the one direction. That’s from Craig Gordon in goal down to the man who is last in the squad.

“We all have to be on board with what we want to do and just see how far it takes us.”

After losing narrowly across both legs of their Europa League play-off against FC Zurich in August, Hearts have lost three of their four Conference League group matches, with their only victory a 2-0 triumph away to RFS last month.

Despite the results, Ginnelly is adamant playing in Europe has been a positive experience overall for Hearts.

“I think, first of all, it’s a huge achievement and massive for the club to be playing on this level,” he said. “For the players and the staff, the fans, this club should be playing in Europe.

“We’ve had some disappointing results but we had a great win over in Latvia. There are positives out of it, we’ve learned from it and we still enjoy every game in this competition.

“Some of the players you come up against, one of them that stands out the most is probably (Fiorentina striker Luka) Jovic. I think he was bought for 65million (Euros) – that’s rare to see even in the Premier League in England.

“You look at those kind of players – I do anyway – and you see how they move with the ball and the positions they pick up.

“In some of the games we’ve been a man down but you see the quality on their side and there will be players in our team that might watch the defenders, the full-backs.

“As much as we want to go toe to toe with them, sometimes that has not been the case. On Thursday we will look to do that.”

Hearts have been badly hit by injuries in recent months, with striker Stephen Humphrys the latest to fall victim after being forced off against Celtic on Saturday, but manager Robbie Neilson is hopeful of having one or two unnamed players back in contention on Thursday.