'Well, yes, it does matter': Peter Haring responds to Hearts Europe poser with confidence not dented by Celtic defeat

Despite suffering defeat at Celtic Park on Sunday, Hearts’ belief on the European front is unshakeable: they can progress past FC Zurich and into the group stages of the Europa League.

Peter Haring captained the Hearts team at Celtic.
Peter Haring captained the Hearts team at Celtic.

Trailing 2-1 from last week’s first leg in Switzerland, Hearts welcome the Super League champions to Tynecastle on Thursday. Manager Robbie Neilson, with one eye on that match, rested some key players on Sunday in the cinch Premiership, with Celtic prevailing 2-0 and while it was tough afternoon for Gorgie outfit against the champions, they are far from disheartened ahead of a huge European night.

"As always Celtic was a really really tough game,” said Hearts midfielder Peter Haring, who captained the team in the absence of goalkeeper Craig Gordon. “One of the toughest places I’ve always been – and it’s always like that.

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“But I think we dug in and defended really well and stuck to our gameplan. Overall we caused them problems and asked some questions and overall it’s been a really good performance, especially defensively.

“I felt with a bit of luck we could have taken something out of the game.

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“Obviously it’s always disappointing to lose a game like Celtic, but all eyes on Thursday now, we can’t wait for that game.”

Hearts have the security net of dropping into the Conference League should they come up short against Zurich, but Haring’s eyes are on the main prize.

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When asked if it matters if Hearts play in Europa League or the Conference League, Haring responded: “Yes, of course.

“Does it matter if it is the Europa League or Champions League? Well, yes, it does matter. You want to compete with the best teams possible.

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“If we have the chance to qualify for the Europa League then that is obviously the target we want to achieve.

"There has been clubs playing in that competition that are not the size of Hearts.

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“I said it before when I signed for Hearts that playing in the Europa League was a big big target.

“That’s where the club want to be and that’s the next step for us as a team. To be there regularly.”

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Thursday’s match at Tynecastle, which is a sell-out and kicks off at 8pm, will be shown live by the BBC, the broadcaster has announced.