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Robbie Neilson believes perspective is required as Hearts resume their battle for third spot in the cinch Premiership against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Saturday.

The Gorgie side lost three in a row in all competitions before the international break with a stinging 3-0 defeat at Aberdeen coming after two losses to Celtic, one in the Scottish Cup.

However, the Tynecastle boss noted that with nine fixtures remaining the Jambos are still four points ahead of Aberdeen and five ahead of Edinburgh rivals Hibernian.

“We were obviously disappointed (with the Aberdeen game) but we also have to have perspective within that and look at where we are in the league,” said Neilson, who revealed midfielder Cammy Devlin will miss the Kilmarnock game after suffering concussion on international duty with Australia.

“We are sitting four points clear in third position. Yes, we would like to have more but I think if you asked any team outwith Rangers and Celtic, they would want to be in our position.

“We have nine games to go to try to secure that and it starts on Saturday.

“There’s expectation on Hibs, expectation on Aberdeen as well. Everyone is fighting for that third place.

“We are trying to fight to be higher than that, that’s the objective.

“There is expectation but it is the same as every club.”

While Hearts are striving to keep third spot Killie are in 10th, three points ahead of bottom side Dundee United and fighting for survival.

Neilson said: “The way the league is now, every game is competitive.

“You have a group fighting for survival. You have a group fighting to get into the top six, a group fighting to stay in the top six, a group fighting for Europe.

“So every game at this moment, especially as it comes down to the last single-figure (number of) games, it is all important.

“We expect it to be a hard, physical, demanding game.

“They are very good at set-plays. If you look at their stats, over 50 per cent of their goals come from set-plays so you know you have to be organised in those situations.”

On his first start for Australia in Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium on Tuesday, Devlin had stitches inserted in a head wound after a collision in the 2-1 friendly defeat to Ecuador before he was eventually replaced after 54 minutes by Aiden O’Neill.

Neilson said: “He will miss the game at the weekend. He has concussion. He flagged it up with their doctor.

“He was delaying his flight home so he won’t be home until later tomorrow so he will miss the game.”