With a massive double header against Celtic looming, Robbie Neilson savoured a ‘really important’ victory as Hearts saw off St Johnstone.

Josh Ginnelly’s double took the sting out of what was a tricky encounter for the Jambos, before Jorge Grant made the points doubly safe with a third just over 15 minutes from time. A win keeps Hearts rolling in the chase for third place in the Premiership, but they now face the toughest of tasks against the champions on Wednesday, and again on Saturday in the Scottish Cup.

Neilson, who revealed Stephen Humphrys will miss midweek and return for the quarter-final, knows the scale of the challenge facing his side – but insists they want to take both games to Ange Postecoglou’s team.

“I think it was really important,” he said. “We go Celtic back to back, go to Parkhead and them coming here, it is always difficult. Today was important but any game at Tynecastle you are expected to win it, as we will be next Saturday.

“We need to go there and try and win the game. We have a way of playing and we want to take that to Celtic, challenge ourselves against one of the top teams in the country. They are outstanding at the moment, have a great squad and good manager. It’s a hard place to go and if we go there and just bang it we will get beat so we need to go and play the way we want to.”

The three-goal winning margin was perhaps a tad harsh on Saints, but Neilson was pleased with how his team stuck to their principles in gradually wearing down their resistance.

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“They are really well organised, they press really well, aggressive in the press,” the Hearts manager said. “They always have a threat when Stevie May is up front, Connor McLennan has got pace, Graham Carey has a great left foot, as well. You have to be careful. What pleased me with the players was a couple of times we gave the ball away but we kept passing it through and eventually got ourselves there.”