FRANKIE KENT admits having the chance to test himself against Scottish champions Celtic was a major draw in attracting him to join Hearts from Peterborough United during the summer.

The English defender is well aware of the challenge facing Steven Naismith’s side at Tynecastle tomorrow – with the Gorgie side winless against the Parkhead side in their last nine matches – but he believes concentration will be key to his side’s chances of arresting that record.

After a rocky start to the season, Hearts have found a level of consistency in recent weeks and climbed to fourth place in the table following the 2-2 draw against city rivals Hibernian last time out.

Naismith’s side will be looking to make up for throwing away a two-goal lead in Gorgie against Nick Montgomery’s resurgent Hibs, and not taking their eye off the ball against Brendan Rodgers’ possession-rich side will be key to picking up a result this weekend.

"These are the games you want to be involved in, playing against the best teams and testing yourself,” Kent said. “Last week was my first taste of the derby and now I'm moving on to another big game.

"[Celtic] are obviously doing well. They are a big team and a good club, they've got a load of good players. I'm looking forward to testing myself.

"[Naismith] hasn't said too much. I know I've just got to stay as concentrated as I can. It's going to be a tough game as they like to dominate the ball. It's about staying alive and staying focused.”

Asked if it will be more about staying focused than a physical battle against Celtic, Kent replied: "I think so. They play a certain style of football and we probably haven't come up against that this season as much - maybe in the European games. We've got to go in with confidence for our gameplan and try and stick to it as much as possible, go full steam ahead.”

Kent admits his knowledge of the game north of the border did not extend much beyond Celtic and Rangers before making the move from League One in England in the summer, but one man operating behind the scenes at Celtic is a well-known figure to the centre-half from his Peterborough days.

“The only guy I know is [Gavin] Strachan [current Celtic first-team coach]. He was my assistant coach at Peterborough. It will be good to see him. We had a good relationship and he helped me a lot, which was nice of him.

“He was just very hands-on with me. When I came up I was at Colchester, so the league below, and then went up to League One. He was always helping me, in terms of the technical side, and also watching video with him and stuff like that. Just little bits of learning. I can’t really thank him enough for what he helped me with.”

One area where Kent, now 27, feels he has developed is in his leadership skills on the field.

Having slotted straight into a makeshift backline at Tynecastle with first-team regular Craig Halkett out injured since the start of the season, Kent appears to have found his voice on the park and in the dressing room quickly.

“It’s something I’ve had to learn from playing at quite a young age,” Kent said. “Something I’ve always been is quite vocal. It helps me as well, to stay concentrated and get everyone else where I think they should be. It keeps me switched on.

“ I suppose going into the first team [at Colchester] at quite a young age, I didn’t feel like I could be as vocal as what I probably was in my own age group. It takes some time to get used to it. But the dressing room thing and feeling comfortable in that has allowed me to do that.

With Hearts struggling in recent times against the big two in Glasgow, this weekend, Kent feels, provides the perfect opportunity following the international break to kick-start their bid to reclaim the best-of-the-rest mantle surrendered to Aberdeen last term.

“We know how much of a big team Celtic is and they are a very good team with very good players,” Kent said. “But we don’t want to be there just to make up the numbers, we’re there to win the game. It’s three points, that’s all it is. I think we’ve got to reiterate that to ourselves, that it is three points, and we should be doing everything to try to win the game and set out our game-plan.”