Calming influence required

Marius Zaliukas 1Stephen Elliott was glad to see Marius Zaliukas back in the side on Saturday as he feels the calming influence of the club captain can help the club climb the league table. Zaliukas was there to guide Hearts to a 1-0 win at Aberdeen, their first clean sheet in the SPL since the 4-0 win at Hamilton on August 21 when the defender was last in the side. Since then there has been a long running and distracting series of meetings between Zaliukas and majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov over a contract with Hearts. Things look to be nearing an end on that front after more positive talks last week and he looks set to sign a contract with Hearts this week with his four-year loan from Kaunas due to expire in December. Elliott said: "He's an experienced player, he's our captain and I think he has a calming influence on the rest of the team. He did really well at the weekend. With him not playing and Lee Wallace picking up an injury, the manager was unfortunate having to put players in that weren't in their right position. But at the weekend we looked really well at the back and it's no coincidence that Marius was playing."

Elliott is also looking to increase his influence after a niggling hamstring injury prevented him making an immediate impact following his summer move from Preston. The Republic of Ireland has yet to start a game but came off the bench in Aberdeen and feels he has put his injury problems behind him. He said: "
It's felt really good over the last couple of weeks so hopefully that's the end of it. I just have to work hard in training and be ready for when the manager calls on me. But I would rather come into a team that's winning than a team that's losing. I just have to be patient but once I get a run in the team I hope I can put my influence on it."

Hearts have yet to win at home in the SPL this season but St Mirren and Kilmarnock visit Tynecastle over the next two weeks and Elliott hopes they use those games to boost their chances of getting into European position. The former Sunderland and Wolves striker said: "In certain games we've played really well. We've been unlucky in most games but we have to start picking up more points at home. With the squad here, we've got to be looking at third place."