GRAINGER: ALL ABOUT THE SPL - FOR NOW
Left-back Danny Grainger is adamant Hearts are focused only on the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and are not distracted by the tantalising prospect of next month's Scottish Cup final with Edinburgh rivals Hibernian.
At the behest of manager Paulo Sergio, the Hearts players are not permitted to discuss the May 19 William Hill Scottish Cup showpiece with Hibs, and Grainger insists the SPL is all the matters at present.
"We don't need to talk about the cup," said the 25-year-old defender ahead of Saturday's clash with Rangers.
"We've got five big games in the league to talk about. That's what we're concentrating on.
"It's been a massive week for the club. Now we've just got to look forward to the last five games of the season, try to get as high up the league as we can before the big one at the end of the season.
"Our aim is still to finish in the European places. That hasn't changed.
"Every game is massive for us. If it was a time in the season when we didn't have much to play for then it would be a lot harder. We've got five big games which can determine whether we play in Europe or not.
"The boys all know we've got five massive games now to make sure we do the business in the league, finish the league as positive as we can and then look to the cup."
Grainger was denied a cup final appearance for Gretna in 2006 as Hearts won the trophy, but he hopes his performances in the SPL can secure his Hampden place this time around.
"I don't want to miss out, but we've got five league games to concentrate on," he added.
"Everyone's out there to impress every week. It doesn't matter if there is a cup final to play for or not."
The immediate priority is Saturday's match at Tynecastle as sixth-placed Hearts, two points behind fourth-placed St Johnstone and a point behind Dundee United, seek to enhance their position in the table.
Grainger added: "It's a massive game for us. It's Rangers and that speaks for itself. With St Johnstone and Dundee United playing each other it's a chance for us to gain points on them."
Hearts managing director David Southern this week said talks over the future of Sergio, who is out of contract at the end of the season, are imminent.
A Europa League place and a Scottish Cup win is likely to help Sergio's claim to stay on despite anticipated cost-cutting measures at the club and he has the support of the players.
"He's come in and done a fantastic job," Grainger added.
"He's got the players all playing together and how he wants us to play. A lot of the boys would like to see him stay.
"If you look at the season we've had, with the troubles off the pitch, he's kept the boys together. We're in the Scottish Cup final, we've got a chance of finishing in the European places and we'll be disappointed if we don't."
European football could also help Hearts retain the likes of Rudi Skacel and Craig Beattie, who are out of contract at the end of the current campaign.
"It's a group of boys here who can go on and do something really good," Grainger said.
"If we can keep them together next season, there's no reason we can't push on. Hopefully the problems off the pitch can get sorted and we can look at finishing higher than what we finish this season."
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