Third needs to be secure

20100418-Tynecastle stadium sign 2Hearts have won 12, drawn one and lost two of their last 15 SPL games and want to build on that record when they play Dundee United at home on Saturday. Assistant manager Billy Brown says that securing third place is the target rather than splitting the Old Firm. Celtic and Rangers, who are five points clear of Hearts albeit with games in hand, meet on Sunday in the league and if things go well at Tynecastle the gap could be eaten into. However, Brown said: "We're not looking at that. All we're interested in at the moment is trying to nail this third place. The quicker we can do that the better and we can then view other things after that. We're just concentrating on Dundee United."

United were due to play at home on Wednesday but the game against Hamilton was postponed. United have a number of games to play to catch up with the rest of the league. However,  Brown pointed out even if Peter Houston's side win their four games in hand, United would still be 10 points adrift of Hearts. Brown added: "For us to beat them on Saturday would be a big blow to them." Third place is all but assured as there are 15 points of a difference to fourth-placed Kilmarnock. While this looks as if third place is within touching distance, Brown said: "The position we're in you can only throw it away, but you've got to keep winning. Until you do it, you can't take anything for granted."

Third would be an improvement on the sixth achieved last season after Jefferies and Brown returned to the club for a second time in January. Brown attributed Hearts' improved performance this season to a greater togetherness. He said: "We've got a real happy environment and it's a big benefit to the results we've had. There's a feel-good factor."

Defender Andy Webster also made a return to Hearts in the 2-0 win over Hamilton last Saturday and looks set to appear against the team he captained to Scottish Cup victory last season this weekend. Brown has been impressed with the former Wigan and Rangers defender's application since returning to Tynecastle following his exit in 2006. He added: "He's got good stature about him. He's 28 years old and he's just reaching his prime. He's got an enthusiasm about him to do well here and hopefully he can get back in the Scotland set-up."

Another player with ambitions to break into the international side is Andrew Driver, although next month's friendly against Brazil is likely to come too soon for the winger. Oldham-born Driver has made three substitute appearances in the last few weeks but his inability to train indoors due to recent long-term knee and thigh injuries have hampered his progress. Brown went on: "Andy is a top player, he is a big player for us. Before he gets in the Scotland team he's got to get in the Hearts team. He's got to get back playing regularly. I'm sure he's another one Craig Levein has got in his sights."