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Former Caley Thistle striker Stevie Hislop feels underdog status can bring out best of Inverness against Hearts at Tynecastle

Steven Hislop.
Steven Hislop.

Steven Hislop believes Caley Thistle can thrive as underdogs when they face Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday.

The Jambos are strong favourites for the Championship title, and are aiming to continue their 100% start to the campaign when they host Inverness this weekend.

Former striker Hislop, who played for Caley Jags between 2003 and 2005 during Robertson’s first spell in charge at Caledonian Stadium, insists the burden of expectation is fully on Robbie Neilson’s men.

Hislop said: “Hearts will be huge favourites. With the depth they have in their squad they may be able to rotate, whereas John is working with his hands tied behind his back.

“As his old famous saying goes, they will not go down there to roll over and get their belly tickled.

“He is not daft, he is not going to go gung-ho, but they will have a gameplan and they will be hoping to get something out of it.

John Robertson.

“If they come away with a point it might be just as good as a win, with no disrespect.

“They might find it easier without the crowd being there to spur Hearts on.

“Caley Thistle will be underdogs and they seem to prevail a lot when that is the case.”

Hearts will go into Saturday’s game particularly buoyed by their Scottish Cup semi final victory over Hibernian last weekend, which sets up a final showdown with Celtic at Hampden Park next month.

Although Hearts have opened their league campaign with victories over Dundee and Arbroath, Hislop believes next month’s match against the Hoops could prove a distraction for the Jambos’ players.

He added: “I watched Hearts’ first league game against Dundee, and they were magnificent. I think there was a lot riding on that game because of what had happened with the voting.

Hearts’ Jamie Walker makes it 1-0 from the penalty spot during the Betfred Cup match between Heart of Midlothian and Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

“There might have been a slight vendetta so that was an easy incentive for Hearts and they destroyed Dundee.

“I don’t think Hearts will run riot against Inverness like they did against Dundee.

“It’s probably a good time to get Hearts. Some players might be thinking of the final, which is still six weeks away.

“I have been there as a player though and it’s in the back of your head. Even ahead of the semi-final, Hearts would have been thinking of the semi-final which was probably why it wasn’t as strong a performance against Arbroath.

“When you get to finals, I’m not saying you don’t try 100% but it’s always on the back of your mind you don’t want to get injured.


“Hearts will be very much on a high, which John will maybe use to his advantage in thinking they might take their eye off the ball. He will be using all these old cliches to try and get something.”

Although Robertson has vowed to keep up as competitive a challenge to Hearts as possible, Hislop believes achieving a play-off finish will be a realistic target for the Highlanders.

The 42-year-old added: “John’s aim will be to get into the top four. They will not win the league. Let’s be brutally honest – Hearts will probably run away with it.

“If Hearts play against anybody and are at their 100% best, they will come away with the win no matter which team they are up against.

Stevie Hislop (left) with John Robertson and fellow Challenge Cup final goalscorer David Bingham.

“Everyone else is vying for second, third and fourth. If Inverness can get into the top four again, hopefully this time they get the chance to get into the play-offs.

“I actually fancied them in the play-offs last season when there was still a chance of them going ahead.

“I saw Aaron Doran came off the bench, so it will be interesting to see whether John starts him or keeps him fresh for the weeks ahead.”