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Hibs boss Heckingbottom relishing ‘blood and thunder’ derby against Hearts

Hibernian head coach Paul Heckingbottom is anticipating the kind of old-fashioned “blood and thunder” derby he feels English football has lost as he prepares to take his team to face Hearts on Saturday.

Heckingbottom collected the Ladbrokes Premiership manager of the month award less than 24 hours after leading Hibs to a guaranteed top-six finish with a game to spare.

That match is an Edinburgh derby and Heckingbottom is savouring the prospect of a passionate atmosphere at Tynecastle given he thinks Scottish refereeing is more lenient than its English counterpart.

When asked about his first impressions of football north of the border, the former Barnsley and Leeds manager said: “The standout is the passion, so we will see that on Saturday.

“There’s passion in lots of derbies down south but the way the game is refereed takes away a lot of what used to be the blood and thunder part of the game.

“Derbies on the pitch down south now are generally just another game of football. It’s the build-up and rivalry between the fans which is the exciting bit and then maybe the banter afterwards but the game is just a game of football.

“Up here it’s a lot looser the way it’s refereed, there’s a lot more accepted and given, which will make for a proper derby atmosphere.

“It will be on where the referee has got to be strong, he will ref it in his own way but he has got to be strong and ref it in a way that makes sure we all see a good game.”

Heckingbottom added: “It is a different game, you get that when you are playing in different countries.

“When foreign players come into the English game, they think it’s a lot more physical, but then it’s more physical up here.”