MORGARO GOMIS, the Hearts midfielder, has defended head coach Robbie Neilson's decision to train with 10 men ahead of their league opener against Rangers and insists he will not alter his combative style for the trip to Ibrox.
Neilson has readied his side for the possibility of having a man sent off at the home of the SPFL League 1 champions, hinting that referees may be swayed by the raucous atmosphere in Govan.
The comments came after Hibernian striker Danny Handling was shown a harsh red card in Rangers' 2-1 Petrofac Training Cup win on Tuesday evening.
They led to Ally McCoist, the Rangers manager, joking yesterday: "He's in the management door 30 seconds and he's playing mind games already."
Gomis, though, says the tactic is a sign of good preparation, and reflects Neilson's thorough approach in his maiden managerial role. And, despite the controversy regarding opposition players' treatment at Ibrox, the Senegalese midfielder says he will not temper his tough tackling tomorrow.
"We have been practising over the past two weeks playing 11 against 10 and it has gone well," he said. "It's just in case something happens and it makes sense to prepare ourselves properly for anything.
"It doesn't reflect who we are playing against, it's just good to be prepared because if you have to play with 10 men anything can happen.
"Robbie is a good manager and he has prepared all of us properly for the challenge ahead. I've really enjoyed working under him so far. I still won't think twice about going in for a challenge at Ibrox."
Gomis, who won the Scottish Cup with Dundee United in 2010, says he knew his side was destined for glory when they snatched a last-gasp quarter-final victory over Rangers at Ibrox. That was the occasion, he admits, when he and his team-mates believed they could win the trophy.
"That was when we really thought that would be our year. We really felt we would go all the way and we went on to take our chance to win the cup.
"Obviously, it's not the same players that they had a few years ago but they still have good players there and this is not going to be easy.
"It's going to be a tough start but it's something to look forward. [The Championship] is a brilliant league to be in. We are all ready to step up to that challenge."