Andy Halliday insists Hearts must not allow their heavy fixture schedule to become an excuse for under-performance.
The Jambos suffered a Premier Sports Cup exit at the hands of Kilmarnock on Wednesday in what was their third consecutive midweek fixture following their two-legged Europa League play-off against Zurich.
Halliday is adamant that if they want to compete on several fronts they must learn to cope with such an intense run of games.
“I’m not going to use that as an excuse because that’s where we want to be,” said the versatile Hearts player. “We want to try and compete in all the competitions we’re in.
“We said from the outset that we want to go deep in cup competitions so I don’t think there is any doubt that (losing to Kilmarnock) is a disappointment.
“But it’s important we bounce back, we have a tough game at the weekend against Livingston and we need to recover properly because we’re light in numbers.
“We’ve got a young group and I think it’s important the more experienced ones get round the boys in the next couple of days and realise it’s a blip. We’ve got loads of games to play for. We’ve still got Europe, the league and the Scottish Cup. It’s important we recover as we all know Livingston is a difficult place to go.”
On top of their heavy fixture load, Hearts are currently missing key trio Beni Baningime, Kye Rowles and Liam Boyce to long-term injury, while Craig Halkett, Stephen Kingsley, Nathaniel Atkinson and Jorge Grant have had recent fitness issues to contend with, undermining Hearts’ efforts to add strength in depth this summer.
“It’s unfortunate because one of the areas we looked to improve on was our depth,” said Halliday. “I thought we were quite light towards the tail end of last season but I thought the manager and (sporting director) Joe Savage have done great with the players we brought in.
“I thought we strengthened what we had but you can’t legislate for six, seven injuries over the space of the last two, three weeks.
“Some of them aren’t great and they’re going to affect us as we’re losing key players, the likes of Halks, Kingsley and Boyce.”