Steven Naismith insists Hearts go into Saturday’s crunch game against St Mirren with increased confidence despite suffering defeat by Celtic last week.
The Hoops clinched the cinch Premiership title with a 2-0 win at Tynecastle, where goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu came after the home side lost Alex Cochrane to a contentious VAR-assisted red card on the stroke of half-time.
The Gorgie side had caused Celtic problems until it was adjudged that the Jambos defender had denied Parkhead attacker Daizen Maeda an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
Hearts interim boss Naismith had enjoyed a 6-1 win over Ross County in his first home match in charge but was far from disheartened by the Celtic setback.
“If anything else it gives us more confidence,” said Naismith, who revealed that appealing against Cochrane’s red card was discussed but it was decided “we don’t want to risk losing a player for longer”.
He added: “We have challenged the team at the top of the league who have been away out in front consistently with their performances and limited them to very little opportunities and more looking to the first half, we caused them loads of problems and not many teams have done that this season.
“I said after the game that there were lots of positives and that’s the way we looked at it coming away from the game.
“Not just looking at the game but the data that comes with it, it’s not perception, it’s fact.
“In the first half we were the dominant team, we created the better chances, where we played the game was in the better areas for us in general.
“We also analysed the goals and how they came and what we can do better but overall we are still definitely progressing as I would like and now we have to get results.”
With four fixtures remaining, Hearts are in fourth place in the table, five points behind Aberdeen, one ahead of Hibernian and two ahead of Stephen Robinson’s St Mirren, who have lost three in a row since beating the Jambos 2-0 at Tynecastle last month.
Naismith, whose side host the Dons the week after the St Mirren game, said: “The next couple of games coming up for us are going to be important.
“But we would rather be in this position, trying to go for European football than be in mid-table and not to be involved.
“St Mirren have consistently been in most games this season and they have done really well to get into the top six.
“I know as a club it is something they have been pushing for in the last few seasons and have narrowly missed out. This time they have made it which is an achievement in itself.
“The manager has come in and done a fantastic job and they have a way of playing we need to guard against.
“And as much as the results haven’t been there for them in the last couple of games, they definitely have a threat going forward.”
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