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Hearts vice-captain John Souttar tipped to pile on the pain for Rangers – and spoil Aaron Ramsey’s debut

TAYLOR Moore has backed his fellow Hearts centre half John Souttar to do his utmost to spoil Aaron Ramsey’s debut at Rangers this weekend if he is fit to face the club he will join in the summer.

Souttar missed the Edinburgh derby against Hibernian at Easter Road on Tuesday night because of the minor ankle injury he suffered in the cinch Premiership win over Motherwell at Tynecastle last Saturday.

However, the Scotland centre half has a good chance of returning to Robbie Neilson’s starting line-up for the league meeting with the defending champions at Ibrox this Sunday.

The 25-year-old signed a pre-contract agreement with the Glasgow giants this month and will move to Govan in July – but he will remain in Gorgie until the end of the 2021/22 campaign after a second bid was rejected on deadline day. 

Moore, who partnered Souttar at the weekend in the absence of Craig Halkett, is confident that his team mate will continue to perform at a high level for the capital outfit and will give Ramsay a difficult afternoon if the Welsh superstar makes his bow.

“Facing a player like Aaron Ramsey is an exciting prospect,” he said. “I think everyone would probably agree that an arrival of that calibre is fantastic for Scottish football.

“But we are in a good position at the moment. We are x amount of points above Hibernian, Motherwell as well. We are not actually looking behind, we are looking forward. The manager emphasises that as well.

“We beat Celtic at home early on in the season and then got a point away against Rangers. In the last couple of games we fell short. But we will be looking to go and put in a performance and hopefully take some more points off them – despite the big names.”

Moore added: “Will John handle it? Most definitely. I think when you are actually around him day to day at the training ground you realise how professional he is. Even until the last minute of the last hour of deadline day, he was probably focused on Hearts.

“He is an amazing lad and I can’t speak highly enough of him. It is a situation that we are all in with him, so we are here to support him in any way or form. But I am sure that, as professional as he is, he will be fine.”

Moore, the former Lens and Bristol City defender who joined Hearts on a season-long loan back in August, was unsurprised that Blackburn Rovers, Rangers and Sheffield United all wanted to sign Souttar last month.

The 24-year-old is delighted that his team mate will be remaining at Tynecastle until the summer and believes he can help the third-placed team in the top flight to achieve their objectives.

“You can understand the interest John Souttar has attracted when you work with him day in, day out,” he said. “It is no surprise.

“There is a good mix. We have got some experience with Stephen Kingsley at the back as well. I obviously work alongside Craig Gordon as well who has got x number of games under his belt.

“We have also got some very good young players coming through as well. We have got Australians, we have got English, we have got a bit of everything.

“But we are gelling together. It is a new team. You have got to remember this team has come up from the championship. But the club has a specific vision in mind and it will be interesting to see where it is going to take us.”

Moore added: “We definitely have that strength in depth. That is credit to the club, credit to the recruitment and the way they have handled this transfer window as well, getting the boys to sign contracts. But keeping a hold of John was a massive one.

“We have got a lot of good players in that dressing room. The gaffer always emphasises that when one steps out the other steps in. I have been a part of it this season.

“Sometimes you have to step aside and let the boys do their job. We have got a very good group of players and we are building towards the future, that’s for sure.”

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