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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Alan Pattullo auth-> Eddie Smith
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15 of 032 Bruno Aguiar 41 L SPL A

Stewart insists Tynecastle's foreign legion has hunger for capital clash

Published Date: 18 October 2008
WHEN former Hearts centre-forward Sandy Clark suggested earlier this week that present day players are not so exhilarated by the Edinburgh derby experience, he surely did not have Michael Stewart in mind.

Not only is the Hearts midfielder native to Edinburgh, he has also played for both city teams. Now in his second spell with boyhood heroes Hearts he can still be counted on to provide passion, and yesterday he also defended those colleagues in the T
ynecastle squad who are suspected of not sharing his enthusiasm for the cross-city clash.

Inevitably, the spotlight falls on the imports, though to suggest players such as Christos Karipidis – who played in a series of hothouse derbies when in Greece with PAOK Salonika – are not conversant with the concept of highly-charged encounters is clearly absurd. Even Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo, who is tasting the Edinburgh derby for the first time, can draw on plenty of similar experiences from his travels while both a player and coach.

"It's quite obvious what it means to the people at the club," said Stewart. "And that filters through to the players. I wouldn't go with the assumption that it doesn't mean so much nowadays. It doesn't matter where a player is from.

"When I was down in England, although that wasn't where I was from, I understood what a derby was about. By the same token, If you go to play for a team abroad you still understand what it means because the people are always telling you about it. You are not stupid - you can see what it means to the people out on the streets as well. It is a game that needs to be won."

A derby, by definition, is one which always needs to be won, but Hearts are especially desperate to avoid conceding three points to Hibs as they attempt to catch up with their Easter Road rivals. Two successive defeats have led to concern among supporters, and Hearts currently trail Hibs by a point.

This outbreak of poor form has exasperated Laszlo and he has pursued a back to basics policy in training in the fortnight since they last played. The need to stop making mistakes has been emphasised.

"I can understand what the manager is talking about," said Stewart. "In the last couple of games a few mistakes have led to us losing a couple of games. It is disappointing. Higher up the league you go, teams make fewer mistakes.

"That is why Rangers and Celtic always end up being at the top of the league. They have a large number of players in their squad who keep a level of consistency. We can compete with any team in the league but unfortunately there are days when the number of those not performing out-weigh the number who are."

Laszlo will employ the returning Andrew Driver at some stage, though has yet to decide whether to start with the player or introduce him as a second-half substitute. The winger has not played since the end of August, when he scored in a 2-1 win for his team. Since then Hearts have lost three of their four league fixtures, including at home against Kilmarnock in their last outing.

"The Kilmarnock game was the first game in my short career here when I was very disappointed," said Laszlo. "We had the game in our hands and lost concentration. The team did not play the good football we played before. We must go back to games like against Hull City and Motherwell earlier in the season – these are the performances I would like to see from my team."

The addition of Driver aids the manager when it comes to options, although David Obua and Deividas Cesnauskis remain sidelined. Both are expected to return next week. Laszlo has no fears about introducing Driver, even in such a frantic setting.

"He has worked very well," he said. "If you prepare well physically your body can recover quicker. It is a rule in football that if you have been injured for two or three weeks then you also need two or three weeks to come back. But Andrew Driver is a young guy, and prepared well in Germany at the start of the season.

"I think he can play, but perhaps not 90 minutes. We will decide whether he plays from the first minute or comes on in the second half. I will decide tomorrow. But the player must be honest and tell me if he feels good. After that it is up to me to make a tactical decision."

Laszlo is likely to persist with a 4-4-1-1 formation, perhaps in the belief that it would be dangerous to change things specifically for a derby match, even given the expected intensity.

The manager pointed out that he has been involved in three fierce derby clashes in his career – Borussia Moenchengladbach v Cologne, Hungary v Romania and Ferencvaros v Ujpest – and always been with the team wearing green and white, which in these cases were Moenchengladbach, Hungary, and Ferencvaros. "Now I don't look for the colour, I look for the team," he said. "My passion is with Heart of Midlothian."

Taken from the Scotsman

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