Steven Naismith spoke to the press ahead of the Viaplay Cup encounter with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Tuesday night. He provided an update on Nathaniel Atkinson, addressed the club's poor League Cup record, talked about the influence of the plastic pitch and how this game could act as a launchpad for the season. 

Here is everything he had to say...

Nathaniel Atkinson is on crutches and has a boot on. Is it a protective measure or something more serious?

He will go for a scan today and we will see what the outcome of it is soon. That's why at the moment we will be taking precautions with it. We don't know how serious that one is at the moment.

What is the area of concern?

Leg, ankle type area. That is why he is going for a scan, to see in terms of any more serious damage than we think at the moment.

READ MORE: Hearts predicted line-up v Kilmarnock: Atkinson replacement, back 3?

You've had time to reflect from the weekend. Thoughts any different from post-match?

I think we had some good moments to build up. That next stage when you have beaten their press we weren't clinical enough. The moments we were and had good movement to get three really good chances, we didn't take them. Other than their goal they had a few hairy moments in the box but they didn't have any unbelievable chances. I don't think there was much in the game at all. The difference is we gave up a cheap goal and gave them something to hold onto and that suited how they play and they can be dangerous on the back of that when we need to commit a few more bodies forward. On another day we could have scored one or two and it could have been different.

You have played Kilmarnock already, they seem to be a much more Derek McInnes team, would that be fair?

My mind has not changed since we played them. Their recruitment has been really good. The manager is obviously experienced. Last season they maybe found it a bit tougher. Now, when he has been able to recruit the type of player that he wants with experience of the Scottish game and some of the attributes he wants, you can see the difference in their team. It will be a really tough game, part of that will be down to the pitch. 100 per cent, I don't think you watch any game on astro and don't see it as an impact. We are aware of that, we will need to change some things that we try to do to make sure we can carry a threat and we don't get caught with the way the pitch is. They commit bodies forward and they have a real threat in terms of their two forwards and also their wide players. We know they are dangerous but we need to do what we can do and what we have shown at times this season and carry our own threat.

Hearts League Cup record hasn't been the best...

Hearts trophy record is not brilliant for the size of club and backing. For me there is a demand there, but we need to all be at a good level to consistently be challenging for the trophies because inevitably the Old Firm have the financial capabilities to have a much bigger squad which minimises the risk for them. It is a real opportunity. In my time as a player I was in two semifinals, two finals, two penalty kicks away from winning the Scottish Cup. They are small margins. But it is a great opportunity to get to that next stage which is the semi-final. In those moments you get a sense you aren't far away. We have got to know that, understand that and a lot of the players in the changing room have been there and experienced that. We have got to use that to give us that mentality to go and win the game. 

Could this act as a launchpad to get the season going?

Inevitably that is what it is. Having this game so quickly after the disappointing game at the weekend gives us that opportunity to bounce back. Having the two away games this week helps because we've highlighted the fact away from home we're not playing like we do when we are at home. Again it gives us an opportunity to show that we are making change on that front. If you get into a cup semi-final, the confidence on the back of that and how you will feel does bring confidence. The main aim is to go there and compete first of all and then get through in the tie and into a semi-final.

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Are you aware of any criticism coming your way?

I'm not aware of any individually but I'm pretty sure there will be because I've experienced and seen it at the club over the last six years. If there isn't a win at the weekend then the fans aren't happy. I believe in what we are doing. Getting that instant success overnight ain't going to happen, it is never going to happen when there is any change. I think if we can get through this period the long-term foundations are much better for a longer term success. I've been around the club long enough to know yes, you can make a few changes here or there and you can get a reaction and there might be a period of looking good. If you really want to move the club forward to that next level then you need to make sure every aspect of it is in sync and in line. Quick fixes for me don't work.

How was Beni after the weekend?

Really good. On a personal level I am really pleased for Beni because he has had a really tough time coming back. Especially in the first half he showed his quality. He is so comfortable taking the ball. He's not afraid to come and ask for the ball whenever the option is on. He's got some real quality. It was a big positive for us. Everything is fine, the hard part for someone like Beni and we've seen it with [Liam] Boyce, when you've been out for that long a period there is a level you get to and you just need that bit of rest and that's part of the reason why we took him off at the weekend because you put them into that next zone of potentially picking up an injury that we definitely don't want.

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