Home Sports Football Hearts due derby-day relief
Hearts due derby-day relief

Hearts due derby-day relief

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Hearts have endured a fairly miserable time of things in recent Edinburgh derbies but they are fancied to turn things around on Sunday at Tynecastle in a blockbuster Scottish Cup clash.

Scotland’s top flight teams return from their winter break this weekend with the last-32 of the Scottish Cup taking centre stage.

Holders Celtic begin their defence with a straightforward looking home tie again Championship strugglers Brechin at Parkhead.

Likewise, Rangers won’t anticipate an upset when they travel to Highland League side Fraserburgh on Sunday.

Later on Sunday afternoon comes the most eagerly awaited clash of the weekend when Hibs cross the capital to face Hearts.

The Hibees have dumped out their city rivals in the cup three times since 2012, while the Jambos have failed to win any of the previous nine Edinburgh derbies.

Strange then to be tipping Hearts but odds of 9/5 look to generous here. Home advantage could be vital, with the Gorgie venue sure to be packed to the rafters.

Neil Lennon’s side have gone off the boil worryingly in the league lately, with only one win from six games. Hearts, meanwhile, are unbeaten in nine and have not conceded a single goal in their last six outings.

The highlight was a 4-0 demolition of Celtic a month ago, thus ending the Hoops’ 69-game unbeaten domestic run. Craig Levein has got Hearts working hard and the spirit they’ve shown recently will be key in this derby showdown. That might just be enough to end their recent travails in this fixture.

On Saturday, Aberdeen face a potentially tricky encounter with St Mirren at Pittodrie in the lunchtime kick-off.

Saints are clear at the top of the Championship and Jack Ross has got his side well on target for a return to the top flight. The supremely talented Lewis Morgan will be a danger to Aberdeen and the youngster should relish this stage in front of the television cameras.

St Mirren have, however, conceded 23 goals in just 22 league outings this term and that is a worry. Derek McInnes wants silverware to show for Aberdeen’s consistency in recent seasons and this competition is their best chance.

In Gary Mackay-Steven and the returning Niall McGinn the home side have pace and trickery that will cause bother for their visitors. This could be an entertaining affair just the same and Aberdeen are tipped to win, with both teams to score, priced at 41/20.

The Dons are also a reasonable bet at 15/2 to lift the Scottish Cup this season, with Celtic firm favourites to retain their trophy at 11/10.

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Enda McElhinney Our racing expert, Enda studies cards in both England and Ireland on a daily basis and knows all the details you need to know when trying to select a winner. He is also a regular football writer and has strong knowledge of the Scottish game, with golf another specialised sport on his CV.