Mark Reynolds knows the pain that the Hearts players are experiencing as they await relegation from the SPFL Premiership - and the probability of losing their jobs should the club fail to avoid liquidation.

The Aberdeen centre-back's career hovered on the precipice of uncertainty when, as a youngster with Motherwell, the club escaped the drop only on the final day of the season.

He is, therefore, sympathetic to the plight of the players, though his focus tonight, when the sides meet in the capital, will be on beating them for the first time this season and securing more valuable points in the race for the runners-up spot in the league. "The three points are becoming bigger and bigger with each game as the season nears the end," he said.

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Reynolds, who has been offered a contract extension until 2018, recalled the difficult times at Motherwell under then manager, Maurice Malpas. "It [the fight to avoid relegation] isn't nice to be involved in," he said. "We finished 11th. Malpas had come in after Terry Butcher went to Australia and we just avoided the drop on the last day. I think we lost to Dunfermline, but someone else got beat and that kept us in the league.

"The big thing for the Hearts players is that, no matter how scary or imminent it is, they can't influence the relegation issue.

"They are under contract, so they just need to sit tight. The only escape they get from it is 90 minutes; that is what they can influence. It makes playing football that much better and more enjoyable. It is finding something you can influence when everything else is falling down around you."

Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, is full of admiration for the Hearts players. "They deserved their win against Hibs on Sunday and they will go into this game confident, so it will be a really tough match," he insisted.

"It will be a poorer league without Hearts next season. They have had to suffer the consequences of mismanagement, but throughout it all Gary Locke [their manager] has managed his team strongly and he comes out of this with tremendous credit."