Football: Heat is on for Hearts to deliver

SCOTTISH FOOTBALL
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The Independent Online
Jim Jefferies, the Hearts manager, has urged the fans at Tynecastle to turn up the volume on Celtic and keep his side at the top of the table.

The most eagerly awaited match of the season so far pits Jefferies' men against Wim Jansen's resurgent Celtic in front of a sell-out Edinburgh crowd.

With three points dividing the two sides and Rangers also hard on their heels at the top of the Premier League, Hearts face a first big test of their championship credentials.

A redeveloped Tynecastle will be hosting only its second home game after the opening of the new Gorgie Road stand.

"The stadium's looking great, and it should be a cracking atmosphere on Saturday," he said. "We know it will be a full house and that there will be 5,000 Celtic supporters here but we will still have the bulk of the fans.

"We know how intimidating it can be going to Parkhead in front of 50,000, and I'm hoping our fans will give us their full backing and create a similar atmosphere for them.

Hearts are hoping their in-form Scotland defender David Weir recovers from a gash above his eye that required four stitches after training yesterday, while Celtic's Danish midfielder Morten Wieghorst is still doubtful, as they seek to extend an 11-match unbeaten run.

Midweek goal-scoring hero Craig Burley is anticipating a tough examination, after securing a Coca-Cola Cup final date with Dundee United.

"It's a big test for us, and we will need to produce another battling performance to get any kind of result," he said.

Rangers are expected to welcome back Richard Gough against Dunfermline, the beaten Cup semi-finalists, at Ibrox after completing his return move from American side Kansas City Wizards this week.

The other losing semi-finalists, Aberdeen, host Hibernian at Pittodrie, knowing another defeat could push manager Roy Aitken closer to the sack, while their conquerors Dundee United are also searching for a first league win at home to Motherwell.

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