Heart of Midlothian suffered a painful defeat at Ibrox on Saturday - but there is no better fixture for the men in maroon to dust themselves down and get their bid for third place back on track than the hustle and bustle of an Edinburgh derby.

Hibernian await this evening at Tynecastle Park, and Steven Naismith and his backroom team have some big decisions to make. Will Craig Gordon come back in between the sticks for the derby? Will Hearts line up with a back three, or will Naismith opt for something more adventurous? Will he stick with Kye Rowles and Nathaniel Atkinson after some shaky performances at Ibrox, and who starts in midfield?

Joel Sked and James Cairney talk us through their predicted line-ups below - and, as usual, there is some healthy debate over what will happen in key areas of the team.

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It would be easy for a manager to change it up quite drastically after a 5-0 defeat as they look for a reaction. It's not something I see Steven Naismith falling into. He will stick to his belief of looking "at the game and who fits best for the game". Take Nathaniel Atkinson for example. The Aussie had a nightmare first 30 minutes against Rangers. While he left pretty exposed the way the game plan materialised his display could have seen him hooked early. There will be many fans who expect and hope Dexter Lembikisa gets the nod. I can see Atkinson retaining his place if Naismith goes with a back four which I think he might. He is a more trusted option as a right-back than what we've seen of Lembikisa. One of the benefits of the on-loan Wolves defender, however, is his pace up against a Hibs side renowned for their pace in the final third.

That's why I reckon Kye Rowles will retain his place despite, like Atkinson, being well off the pace against Rangers. The centre-back showed his attributes the last time the teams met. 

In turn, it could push Alex Cochrane into midfield where he played at Easter Road for a spell. Naismith will want to control proceedings centrally and Cochrane perhaps provides more solidity alongside Beni Baningime and Calem Nieuwenhof. Again, there will be strong and valid arguments for Aidan Denholm, Macaulay Tait and Cammy Devlin. Both Denholm and Devlin suit what will likely be an intense and high-tempo game. The duo would certainly get in the face of the opposition and make it uncomfortable for Hibs which should be part of the blueprint for success. I just feel Naismith prefers the controlling rather than intense qualities of Baningime and Nieuwenhof.

It means Jorge Grant and Scott Fraser provide a couple of attack-minded options off the bench, especially with Yutaro Oda out.

The front three should pick itself, even if Kenneth Vargas is better through the middle than out wide. However, Naismith could do what he did against Airdrieonians and drop Shankland into a deeper role with Alan Forrest and Vargas playing more narrow. 

Finally. The goalkeeper. Another hot topic for fans. As was always going to be the case, once Zander Clark had a questionable game or conceded a few there were going to be calls for Craig Gordon reinstatement between the posts. It would be harsh on Clark to be dropped and it is not something I see Naismith doing.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Atkinson, Kent, Rowles, Kingsley; Baningime, Cochrane, Nieuwenhof; Vargas, Shankland, Forrest

READ MORE: Why Hearts v Hibs is not on TV - and how it could change (slightly) next season


I think we’ll see Hearts line up in a 4-3-3 this evening. The back three has its place but I feel that Naismith will be keen to start the game on the front foot, and the back four gives Hearts more opportunities to get forward and ask some awkward questions. The Hibs defence isn’t the most solid either, and I’d like to see Hearts testing them early on at Tynecastle Park.

There have been some calls from fans for Craig Gordon to come back into the team for this one, but I’d be surprised if that was the case. Zander Clark didn’t have his best game at Ibrox on Saturday, but the same is true of just about every Hearts player, and I can’t see Naismith changing his goalie off the back of one ropey display. It’s a specialist position that requires a bit of consistency in selection.

That isn’t the case elsewhere though, and I think we could see a few changes off the back of Saturday’s humbling defeat. I think we’ll see Aussie pair Nathaniel Atkinson and Kye Rowles drop to the bench – neither covered themselves in glory at Ibrox – and so I expect we’ll see a back four of Dexter Lembikisa, Frankie Kent, Stephen Kingsley and Alex Cochrane.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Naismith stick with the same three-man midfield from the Rangers game for the derby. Beni Baningime in the No.6 position offers something that few of his team-mates do, and that control in the middle that he brings can be crucial amid the chaotic nature of the derby. Ahead of him and to the right I’d expect to see Calem Nieuwenhof, who seems to have really turned a corner in recent weeks, and I think he’ll be joined by Jorge Grant. With Scott Fraser still getting up to speed, Grant is the most reliable playmaker in the squad at present – and I think that nudges him ahead of the January signing.

The attack is a bit more predictable. With Yutaro Oda missing the game, Kenneth Vargas is the obvious candidate to start on the right, while Alan Forrest is a shoo-in to start on the left. The pair’s pace should allow them to stretch the Hibs backline – and hopefully Lawrence Shankland will be able to take full advantage.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Lembikisa, Kent, Kingsley, Cochrane; Baningime, Nieuwenhof, Grant; Vargas, Shankland, Forrest.