Marvin Bartley relishing return to Hearts

Livingston midfielder Marvin Bartley is relishing a return to Tynecastle as he insisted he was happy to give as good as he gets from the overwhelming majority of Hearts fans.

A man was arrested over alleged racial abuse of the former Hibernian midfielder following his previous visit to Tynecastle in March. Police probed a racist message aimed at Bartley on Twitter after an Edinburgh derby two years earlier.

Bartley has otherwise enjoyed a lively relationship with Hearts fans, not being afraid to playfully stoke the rivalry with comments aimed at fans and even players during his time at Easter Road.

“It’s a stadium I enjoy going to, the atmosphere is normally pretty decent although I have only played there in derby games,” the 32-year-old, who moved from Hibs to Livi in the summer, told the PA news agency.

“I give as good as I get. On social media, 99 per cent of it is banter and light-hearted stuff and you can accept it and get on with it, and I give as good as I get.

“The one per cent that step out of that, I have always said I don’t associate those people with Hearts Football Club, I just see them as people who have jumped on social media to stir things up.

“The other 99 per cent I have a bit of banter with and it’s to and fro, they are supporters. They probably dislike me because of my style of play but they never ever step across the line.

“I will probably get a bit of stick but it’s light-hearted stuff and I can take it.”

Hearts sit below Livingston in the Ladbrokes Premiership and fans have been frustrated at recent form, but Bartley is not focusing on turning any anger from the crowd on the home players.

“When you’re the away team you always aim to quieten the home crowd but we can’t be too concentrated on stuff like that, and not concentrating on our game and playing to our strengths,” said the midfielder, who is hopeful of shaking off a back knock to start.

“It’s important we take the game plan that’s given to us and go out there and perform.

“It’s time to roll our sleeves up. We got a draw on Saturday (against Hamilton) so let’s start an unbeaten run from now to Christmas. It’s vitally important we go out and perform on Wednesday because there’s no more time for excuses.

“I think Saturday was an improved performance. We had an extremely tough run prior to that but coming into Saturday I thought we performed well.

“If we had won the game I don’t think there would have been any complaints from Hamilton, they came and got a draw and I think that’s what they wanted from the game.

“But it’s a point on the board and it’s all about building on performances like that and getting some momentum and trying to get a win on Wednesday. We just want to remain unbeaten until the Christmas period.”