Christophe Berra: Hearts must target top four and Europe as 'minimum'

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Highlights: Motherwell 0-1 Heart of Midlothian

Finishing in the Premiership's top four and getting back into Europe should be Hearts' "minimum" target this season, says captain Christophe Berra.

Hearts hold a five-point lead at the top of the league after winning all five of their opening fixtures.

Centre-back Berra, 33, is recovering from a hamstring injury.

"It couldn't have gone any better but we're not daft," Berra told BBC Radio Scotland. "We know there's going to be a lot of tough tasks ahead."

Craig Levein's side finished sixth last season, 10 points behind Kilmarnock and 18 points adrift of Edinburgh rivals Hibernian. The club last qualified for the Europa League under former head coach Robbie Neilson when they finished third in 2016.

"You want to finish as high up the table but to get one over your nearest and dearest rivals, that's a major bonus," Berra said on Sportsound.

"We want to be getting up in the minimum top four again, back into Europe again where we think we should belong and a club the size of Hearts belong.

"That's our focus like it is every season and whatever comes after that we'll take.

"We've had a great start. Five games. Judge us when it comes to February, March where we'll be in the table because we all know that's the business end of the season and that's when it all counts.

"With a winter break, that's technically half the season gone and then when you come back it's about hitting the ground running again and that'll be another challenge."

Hearts' next two league games are both at home - against Livingston and St Johnstone - either side of a home League Cup quarter-final next Wednesday, 26 September.

Wins away from home 'huge' - analysis

Former Hearts captain Michael Stewar:t

I don't think anybody's seen enough to make a judgment five games in, but three victories away from home already - last season they struggled away from home. They've picked up maximum points on the road, which is a huge thing.

Looking further ahead, can you consider Hearts genuine title contenders? Of course it's far too early, but at the back end of the first round of fixtures (in October) they've got Rangers, Aberdeen, Hibernian - and then the first game of the next run is Celtic. That wee mini-run of fixtures I'm sure will give us a better idea of where Hearts are going to be.

I'm of the opinion that the top teams are going to be tighter; there's going to be a bunching up and one thing I can say with certainty is that Hearts will be finishing higher up than they did last season.

Hearts are a team that should be up there at the top end of the table. Sixth position last season wasn't good enough. They're certainly not going to finish there this year.

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