Robbie Nelson says Hearts are in a “better place” to handle the threat of Celtic ahead of their Scottish League Cup quarter-final meeting at Tynecastle.
The Jambos suffered heavy defeats to the Hoops in both Cups last season but drew 0-0 at Celtic Park this term and Neilson says his third-placed side are in a better position than last year.
“The younger players have had a lot more game time and have a bit more experience,” Neilson told reporters.
“The players I have brought in have improved the squad so we are in a better place than we were last year.
“We will need to be at 100%. We need to compete and work hard and if we do and do the right things then we can win.”
Goalkeeper Neil Alexander has encountered Celtic on many occasions as a Rangers shot-stopper and he says it’s a game which whets the appetite more than any other.
“It’s the quarter-final of the Cup so everything to play for and obviously at home with a packed Tynecastle and the fans behind us. That place can be intimidating for teams who come so hopefully we can use that to our advantage,” he said.
“Being at Rangers I played against Celtic a few times and I can remember winning a cup final and a game at Ibrox.
“It’s always a tough game against Celtic with a huge atmosphere and its always one to look forward to.
“You always look for the big games in the calendar and no disrespect to other teams in the league but, when the fixtures come out, Celtic is the one you look for.
“Obviously we got drawn against them twice in cups last year and again this year so we are used to it now.”