Thursday, May 23, 2024

Lawrence Shankland dreaming of cup glory with Hearts

SoccerNews in Scottish Premier League 19 Apr 2024


Lawrence Shankland is allowing himself to dream of adorning his already distinguished Hearts career with Scottish Cup glory as he targets semi-final revenge on Rangers this Sunday.

In less than two seasons at Tynecastle, the 28-year-old Scotland forward has firmly established himself as a hero in the eyes of supporters by notching 56 goals for the Jambos.

But Shankland knows captaining Hearts to their first silverware in 12 years would elevate his status at the club even further.

“It would be amazing,” he said. “You’re allowed to dream when you’re at this stage.

“The semi-final, one step away from a final, it’s obviously something you’re looking at. But you need to concentrate on the task at hand first and if you can get by that, you can continue to dream.

“All trophies help the status of not just me but the full team. You go down as a team that gets remembered if you can get your hands on a trophy so the boys will have that in their heads and that’s what we’ll look to do.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, it’s one we are all looking forward to and we need to go into it with a real positive outlook.”

Shankland was at Hampden for each of Hearts’ previous two Scottish Cup triumphs in 2006 and 2012.

“I was working at the 2012 final (against Hibernian) with Queen’s Park (where he was a young player) handing out the programmes,” he recalled. “And the one before that, against Gretna, I was at Hearts as a kid and got tickets through the club.

“I met the Gretna owner Brooks Mileson outside the ground and got a photo with him. Good memories, so hopefully we can go back this year and get our hands on the cup.”

Hearts’ last visit to Hampden brought a 3-1 defeat to Rangers in the semi-final of the Viaplay Cup in early November.

However, since that setback, at a time when they were struggling in the league, Steven Naismith’s side have found much improved form over the past six months and motored 11 points clear in third place in the cinch Premiership.

“The last time at Hampden we came away with a bit of regret,” said Shankland. “We felt we didn’t really put our stamp on the game and we let it bypass us, which was really disappointing.

“That was something we can learn from though, so hopefully we can implement what we’ve been working on this time.”

While Hearts go into the semi-final buoyed by back-to-back wins over St Mirren and Livingston, Rangers have won only two of their last eight matches in all competitions and have been heavily criticised as their title bid has unravelled in recent weeks.

“Obviously they’ve been going through a wee sticky spell but we know it’s going to be difficult,” said Shankland. “It’s a Scottish Cup semi-final, it’s away from league duty, so they will get a lift from that.

“If you look too much into their form, you could get caught. Rangers are obviously a good team and have been for the last wee while.

“Of course form maybe drops off a wee bit but it’s just the scrutiny of our league and how high the pressure is for the two teams at the top of the league that adds to it.

“I don’t think we can look at it too much. We’ll analyse Rangers as we know them, and the last time we played them at Ibrox, they gave us a bit of a doing (5-0), so that’s something we’ll need to be wary of.”


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