Jorge Grant believes a third-place finish is “ours to lose” as Hearts look to get back to winning ways in the cinch Premiership against Kilmarnock on Saturday.
The Tynecastle men lost three in a row in all competitions before the international break with a sobering 3-0 defeat against Aberdeen at Pittodrie following two losses to Celtic, one in the Scottish Cup.
With nine fixtures remaining, the Jambos are four points ahead of Aberdeen and five ahead of Edinburgh rivals Hibernian but as the race to finish behind the Old Firm hots up, Grant believes the Gorgie side remain in a strong position.
The 29-year-old midfielder, who signed from Peterborough last summer, said: “It’s ours to lose.
“We are in the position that we are four points ahead and if we focus on ourselves and not what’s behind us and keep looking ahead then it is important that we do that. It is important that we look forward and not look backwards.
“If you look at the international break (in November) we went on, we weren’t in third, we were behind (Aberdeen) by four points.
“So the turnaround in coming back from the World Cup break to the position we are in now is obviously good and we will take that but it is important that we don’t rest on that and we push for more.”
After losing three goals in the first half-hour against the Dons, Grant admits that a good start against a Killie side, who are in 10th place and battling for survival, will be key to success at Rugby Park.
He said: “We’ve had video meetings on that. We weren’t good enough on the day. We all know that.
“We have worked on things on the training pitch this and hopefully we will put it into place on Saturday.
“We can’t start games like that. It is important we start games better than we have done this season. It is important we fix that quickly.
“We have to bring that energy in the first 10 minutes and from that you can settle into the game but if you don’t start with that energy you can let a team get on top of you.
“There are points up for grabs for them but it is important that we go for all three points as well.
“We have to be focused for first and second balls. They are very strong on set-pieces, they have scored a lot of goals from there so it is important that we focus on that and then bring our own game.”