Steven Naismith names the Rangers problem Hearts can exploit with Philippe Clement in a 'tough environment'

Steven Naismith admits Rangers recent woes will help shape his Hearts team's gameplan in Sunday's Scottish Cup semi-final showdown at Hampden.

A run of just eight matches in all competitions has seen the Light Blues get knocked out of the Europa League and lose ground in the Premiership title race. Philippe Clement's side now trailing Celtic by three points after squandering the chance to go back to the summit with a goalless draw in Dundee on Wednesday night and a disastrous 3-2 loss up in Dingwall against Ross County last weekend.

On the flip side, Naismith's Jambos go into the clash at the national stadium off the back of four wins in their last six matches in all competitions. Hearts sit 11 points clear of nearest challengers Kilmarnock in third place ahead of the final five post-split fixtures, but can now shift their attentions to trying to end their 12-year wait for major silverware, having last won the Scottish Cup in 2012.

Steven Naismith -Credit:SNS Group
Steven Naismith -Credit:SNS Group

Naismith, who enjoyed success as a player with both clubs, concedes his side will be looking to take advantage of their opposition's recent woes but insists they have prepared like they would for any other game. Speaking to the media ahead of the clash at Hampden, he said: "We've prepared for it like we do for any game, it's just another game on the journey. Yes it gets you into a final, but like we do with every team, we will look at their style of play, their form, the injuries and what they do.

"Two wins in eight tells you they're not at the top level they have been in the 15-20 games before. The dynamic of that means that the players aren't playing with the freedom that they have done in the past or they are second guessing some of their decisions.

"That intenseness from the crowd will come if we are sitting 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go, and it will be the same for them. If we have calm heads in those small moments, we can put pressure on the opposition, it's as simple as that. It's been good to get to two semi finals in our first year as a group but it's better winning them..

"For us that's the focus. We want to go there as we are a good team who have made good strides this season and we have got an opportunity to go and pick up a trophy."

The 37-year-old won six major honours in his five years at Ibrox between 2007 and 2012 and understands the scrutiny Clement's men are under. He added: "There have been some players over the years who have been there and have failed to win trophies. From my experience it is a tough club and a tough environment.

"For any player, it feels great when you win trophies, but doing it is the hard part. If Rangers had scored one of their chances the other night the game could have played out differently.

"It's all about moments in games. We need to be better in possession than we have done in games against Rangers recently, as if we are we can cause them a lot of problems. We believe we'll go into the game with a good plan to win it."