Pressure mounts

Hearts v Rangers IMarian Kello knows Hearts' aspirations at the top of the will be tested to the full in the next fortnight. An unbeaten SPL run of nine wins in the last 10 games has placed the weight of fans expectations to give Rangers and Celtic a run for the SPL title. There is not let up at the top with Celtic (away), St Johnstone (home) and Rangers again (away) after today's home game against Rangers. Kello said: "Hopefully we are competitive with them and we will see in a few weeks how good we are. We want to carry on our record. We can be competitive with them until the end of the season. But we don't want to say it with a big mouth because in one week we could be nine or 12 points behind again. We will see next week or in two weeks how we get on.''

Hearts will make late decisions on the fitness of striker Kevin Kyle and midfielder Rudi Skacel ahead of Saturday. Kyle (groin) and Skacel (calf) missed Tuesday's win at Kilmarnock, but manager Jim Jefferies may risk them. Calum Elliot is also doubtful, while long-term injury absentees Andrew Driver (thigh) and Suso Santana (knee) are nearing returns. Kello is not thinking beyond Saturday's game with Rangers, who are five points above Hearts in second with a game in hand. The 'keeper said: "We know we have many games soon and we want to take each game separately and make sure you do everything for success.  We do not fear them and we must be confident when we go into the game. If we go in there with fear, the team will not achieve anything. You must have respect, but not fear.''

Jamie MacDonald was unflustered as he deputised for Kello in the games against St Mirren, Hibs - keeping two clean sheets in two wins - and in the Scottish Cup loss to St Johnstone. Competition for places has been key to Hearts' run, but Kello is confident he has the ability to remain first choice. Kello went on: "He played well and I kept my fingers crossed for him because I wanted the team to do well. It is about proving myself again and I'm not scared of my opponents or friends in the goals. In every training you need to work at 100% to show you're the best. It's pushing me forward, definitely.''