Hibs face stern test against 'resolute' Hearts, warns Alan Stubbs

Hibs captain Paul Hanlon applauds visiting fans at Tynecastle
Hibs are aiming to knock Hearts out of the Scottish Cup for the third season running

Hibernian will need to be at their best to maintain their recent good record against Hearts in Sunday's Scottish Cup tie, says former manager Alan Stubbs.

The Easter Road side are unbeaten in the past nine Edinburgh derbies.

And Hibs have knocked Hearts out of the Scottish Cup on the three occasions the sides have met since they were demolished in the 2012 final.

But Stubbs said: "Hearts have shown a real resolute desire to not be beaten since Craig Levein took over."

He added: "Hibs have probably been playing the better football this season, but since Craig put his stamp on the team, you can see how tough a side Hearts are to break down."

Sunday's hosts went into the winter break on the back of three goalless draws, extending their run of games without conceding a goal to six and their unbeaten run to nine.

That sequence included Hibs' league visit to Tynecastle, where the match officials failed to spot an early Oli Shaw effort crossing the goal-line.

Hibs cannot afford to harbour any sense of injustice, warns Stubbs, now a regular TV pundit.

"That game has been and gone and nothing can be done about the decision," said the 46-year-old. "Hibs just have to move on from it.

"The players need to make sure they are not caught up in the emotion of the occasion. You can't let that cloud your decision-making.

"But that's easier said than done because there is that weight of expectation with how much it means to the fans.

"You don't ever want to lose to your bitter rivals and the Scottish Cup adds a little bit more to it.

"Everyone wants to get to that day in May and, if you can get there by beating a big rival on the way, it makes it all the more sweet."

'I'll always remember that day'

Hibs manager Alan Stubbs with the Scottish Cup in 2016
Stubbs' final act as Hibs manager was to end a long wait for the Scottish Cup

That was exactly what Stubbs did when leading Hibs to Scottish Cup success in 2016.

And this is the third year running that the clubs have been drawn at Tynecastle in the fourth round, with Hibs prevailing both times after replays.

Stubbs left for an ill-fated spell at Rotherham United after ending Hibs' 114-year wait to lift the trophy for a third time.

"I just had a feeling we were going to win on the day," he told BBC Scotland, recalling the 3-2 final defeat of Rangers.

"It's something I can look back on with immense fondness and I'm very proud that I was able to achieve something for all the fans and all the people involved at the club.

"I was lucky enough to sample success as a player, but to provide it for a number of people is difficult to put into words. I'll always remember that day."

Naismith would be 'big plus' for Hearts

Hearts are bidding to sign Scotland forward Steven Naismith on loan from Norwich City before Sunday and Stubbs knows the 31-year-old from his coaching days at Everton.

"If they get the deal over the line, it would be a big plus," he said.

"He is the type of player who, for his size, likes to get in peoples faces.

"He likes to put people off. He has got really good quality and it will be a very good signing.

"He's a very good team player and he'll give them an added threat going forward.

"I thought there might have been more interest from the [English] Championship, but maybe Steven is looking to get back to Scotland with his family."

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