CELTIC midfielder Callum McGregor anticipates a fighting performance from Hearts tomorrow night when the teams meet at Tynecastle.

New Hearts manager Daniel Stendel did not get the kick he wanted when he took charge of the Gorgie side for the first time this weekend – Hearts were booed off the pitch following defeat to St Johnstone on Saturday – but McGregor is bracing himself for the Tynecastle side to rise to the occasion tomorrow.

Games between the teams in Edinburgh tend to be fairly combustible affairs.

Hearts were the team to burst Celtic’s Invincibles bubble two years ago when they halted a 69-game run without defeat in its tracks.

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Having toiled for the past 12 months there seems little evidence on paper to point to anything other than a straightforward night for Celtic, but McGregor anticipates some reaction from Hearts, whom he has insisted always raise their game when they play Celtic.

“It’s always tough going to Tynecastle but now Hearts have a new manager in place so they will be really up for it,” said the Scotland midfielder. “They will have a lift from the new manager coming in so we will have to be at our best to get the three points.

“I don’t know too much about him [Stendel]. I know he used to manage Barnsley but I’m sure the coaching staff and the guys at Lennoxtown will have done their homework and we will be ready for whatever tests we face on Wednesday.

“Tynecastle is a tough place to go. The boys have found that over the past five years or so. We will need to be at our very best. Why do I think it is such a tough place to go? Every team that plays Celtic and Rangers raises their game anyway.

“It’s a tight stadium and the crowd are behind him at Tynecastle. You have to battle against that environment as well. I think it being a night-time match adds a little to the occasion as well. But we know our mindset going into this game and we will prepare properly.”

McGregor, meanwhile, has insisted it is no hardship for Celtic to turn their back on the usual festivities of the season and focus on the bigger picture.

Neil Lennon has targeted winning all remaining games before the winter break, enabling Celtic to head off to their winter training camp in Dubai with an eight-point lead at the top of the table.

“Christmas is a busy period for a footballer but you are more than happy to make those sacrifices,” said the midfielder. “We will live our life properly in and around the training ground and we will be looking after ourselves at home as well.

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“When you get days like a week past last Sunday when you are raising a trophy at Hampden in front of thousands of your fans then it is all worth it. That’s what makes it special for us as players.

“You make those sacrifices to get those rewards somewhere down the line.”

Lennon has rejigged the squad in recent games and McGregor says having decent squad depth is imperative.

“Everyone talks about the starting XI but the squad of 25 players training every week are all in it together. We drive each other on in training every day and push each other so the standards go up. Then you see that in games. It’s a busy period and we will need everyone.”