Bring our A-game and we can hurt anyone, says Boyce
Liam Boyce met the media ahead of Hearts’ trip to Celtic Park on Thursday night. Jamie McIntosh reports.
It comes as no surprise to see that Liam Boyce wasn’t in the starting 11 for Hearts’ poorest displays of the season at Pittodrie and Fir Park.
The Jambos’ top scorer brings much more than just goals to the side and after getting 80 minutes under his belt against St. Mirren, he is ready to lead the line for Hearts at Celtic Park.
When you go to venues like Ibrox or Celtic Park, it is vital that you have certain things in your armoury to prevent being on the end of a hammering.
One is a frontman who is able to hold the ball up and is clever enough to buy fouls. Another is a top-class goalkeeper to foil the opposition forwards. Pacey attackers in your own ranks are also vital, so when camped inside your own half you are always a threat on the counterattack and, finally, you need to have players who are comfortable in possession.
Dare I say it, but on paper, Hearts appear to have all these weapons which increase your chances of travelling along the M8 and actually having a shot at taking three points back home.
Too many times in the past, Hearts teams have rocked up in Glasgow and have looked beaten before the game has even kicked off, now however Boyce believes Hearts have nothing to fear ahead of their trip to the East End of Glasgow.
“We’ve had a great start to the season. I think we’ve had two bad performances thrown in amongst it all, but we know we are in a good place,” he said.
“The way we’ve been playing, we believe in what we’re doing no matter what the situation is. Even Saturday, in the first half, it was a tougher game. We had a couple of chances and we kept doing what we’re good at and it eventually paid off, we got our goal. We will go into this game the same, playing the way we want to and force ourselves on the game.
“We beat them first game of the season and it was a big win. When it came to that cup game, the first half they dominated us, and we couldn’t really get out. We changed formation in the second half and then we started to believe in ourselves a bit more.
“We were a bit braver in our possession and getting close to people. From our formation we were able to get closer to people – it was good to see that working in the second half.”
Hearts haven’t won a league match at Celtic Park since 2007 and Boyce, who has previously played against the Old Firm with Ross County, finds the game much more enjoyable in a side that believes they can come out victorious.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson said that Hearts ‘would have a go’ on Thursday night which is bound to please his star striker, who will arrive at Parkhead hoping to add his impressive total of six league goals.
“I’ve played in teams that have went and set up defensively,” Boyce explained. “It’s just more enjoyable playing in a team that believes they can go on and win the game.
“Obviously some teams set up to defend and try nick a goal, we done it with Ross County once and we were winning 1-0. I was playing centre midfield that day, but it’s just more enjoyable when you’re not trying to hold off two or three people and waiting for someone to come and run off you.
“As I keep saying, as a player, it’s just more enjoyable when you’re in a position to play one-two’s and not sitting back, worrying about the other team, you instead need to go and impose yourself on the other team.
“We’ve no reason not to believe in ourselves. Apart from the Motherwell and Aberdeen games where we didn’t show what we can do, against every other team we’ve had spells in the game.”