Gary Mackay-Steven is thrilled to be back for Hearts’ mouth-watering Edinburgh derby double-header after being sidelined for a month with a broken hand.
The winger had to undergo surgery and sat out the last three matches as a result of the injury he sustained against former club Dundee United in early March.
But he will play with a bandage on as he prepares to return for this Saturday’s cinch Premiership match at home to Hibernian, which is quickly followed by a rematch against the Easter Road side in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on Saturday week.
“When I got injured I was looking at the calendar working out how many weeks I had to be ready for these games,” said Mackay-Steven. “Thankfully the physios and surgeon pieced me together in time so I’m delighted to be back in the frame for these big games.
“Playing them twice back-to-back, three points either way could be huge for confidence going into another game so soon. Having two derby games is amazing but we’re just taking this one in isolation, and hopefully we can win it and put in a great performance.”
Mackay-Steven dismissed any suggestion that Hibs will be more driven for victory because they are striving to stay in the top six, while Hearts are comfortable in third place.
“Any derby is huge regardless of positions in the league,” he said. “It’s a massive game for us as players and for the supporters. We’re as desperate to win as they will be.
“The atmosphere will be amazing. I experienced one earlier in the season at Tynecastle. Tynecastle has an amazing atmosphere anyway but on derby day it’s just that bit more special.
“As a player, derbies are the games you relish the most because they’re frantic and fast-paced, just what you want as a footballer.
“The derby atmosphere is that bit louder. Certainly having the game at Tynecastle with all the supporters behind us, hopefully it spooks Hibs a little bit more. We’ll use the crowd to give us that bit extra energy.”
Mackay-Steven relishes the challenge of trying to be the player that makes the difference against his team’s city rivals.
“It can be hard to get time and space in games like this,” he said. “At the start, it’s 100 miles an hour but that just means you need to think that little bit sharper, move that little bit quicker and be a little bit cute in your movement.
“Sometimes the game might settle down, but it might not – it might be 100 miles an hour the whole game. You’ve just got to be ready for that.
“As a creative player, you want to be the one that makes the difference, the one that’s scoring the goal. As a player, a game like this is exciting.”
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