Match Preview: Hibs vs Hearts

The first Edinburgh derby of the season takes place at Easter Road tonight. Hibernian and Hearts lock horns in what will be their first Premiership meeting in three years.

On the last occasion when the sides met in Leith, Hibs ran out 3-1 winners in a Scottish Cup replay in February. In fact, Hearts have not won against their fierce rivals in seven games – stretching back to August 2014.

Neil Lennon led Hibs back to the top flight in his first season in charge last year, and will be hoping his side can continue their decent run of form in the current campaign.

Hearts sacked their manager Ian Cathro before the league season started and replaced him with director of football Craig Levein. This will be Levein’s first Edinburgh derby as a manager since October 2004.

Raith Rovers v Hearts - Pre Season Friendly

Craig Levein faces his first derby as a manager in 13 years (Credit: Getty Images)

Hibs will be without defenders Darren McGregor and Liam Fontaine for the clash, whilst doubts remain over the fitness of Anthony Stokes and Danny Swanson. Meanwhile, Hearts will be missing Don Cowie, Arnaud Djoum and Aaron Hughes.

If the Tynecastle side can get a win at Easter Road tonight they will move into the top three of the Premiership table. For Neil Lennon’s side – who have already beaten Rangers at Ibrox and taken a point from Celtic Park – it will be a chance to move above Hearts and into the top half.

The sides have met in the Championship, and two years in a row in the Scottish Cup since their last top-flight clash in April 2014.

Hearts manager Craig Levein said of his side’s chances: “I would argue we are a stronger team now than in any point in the last couple of years. We have big characters in the team now, which we did not have. That will help us.”

Neil Lennon wants his players to be ready for a ‘physical battle’ at Easter Road.

This is a big game. I want my players to earn the right to play. If the game is going to be feisty and gets turned into a physical battle I want them to be ready to stand up to that. They can do that and we have proved that already this season against really strong opposition.

The game kicks off at 7:45pm and is live on BT Sport.

Heart of Midlothian v Hibernian - Scottish Cup Fifth Round

Neil Lennon wants his side to be ready for battle (Credit: Getty Sport)

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