CRAIG HALKETT insists Hearts will take on Rangers brimming with confidence they can give the champions a bloody nose in their own back yard and leapfrog them to the top of the Premiership.

Just a point separates the teams ahead of Saturday’s Ibrox encounter and the Tynecastle outfit will travel west buoyed by remaining unbeaten in the eight games they have played so far since their return to the top-flight this summer.

Halkett came through the ranks with this weekend’s opponents before making a name for himself as a redoubtable captain and sturdy defender during three years with Livingston.

The 26-year-old has been back to his old club on a couple of occasions, succumbing to an aggregate loss of 8-0, and knows the challenges that await Robbie Neilson’s side.

However, he is convinced they are currently in such a good place they can believe they can deliver Hearts’ first Premier victory away to Rangers since 2012.

“I don’t think so, no,” he replied when asked if had ever travelled to Ibrox with so much confidence. “The start to the season is massive in contributing towards that. Obviously, we’re the only unbeaten team in the league so far and it’s a record we want to keep going as long as possible.

“There’s no reason why we can’t go and get a result, with the confidence we have and the performances and results we’ve had at the start of the season.

“For any team, when you go to the Old Firm you know you’re going to be in for a tough game. They’re the two biggest teams in the country [Celtic and Rangers], with the two biggest budgets, and the better players.

“So, you go there knowing it’s going to be a difficult game. But I think just now, with the confidence we’ve got and thinking about ourselves, there’s no reason why we can’t go and get something.

“From our point of view, we’ve just got to think about ourselves and not worry about how Rangers have done at the start of the season. They’re still top of the league, so they’re still playing well enough to pick up results and everybody knows that from our camp.

“It’s just about us working hard this week and working on a game-plan that can get a result.”

Halkett penned a pre-contract to join Hearts in the Premiership in June 2019 but just a year later was facing a season in the Championship.

However, he admits the way this campaign has kicked off is exactly what he was hoping for when he joined the Jambos.

“The team that’s going to be up the top of the table and challenging, and winning the majority of the games? That’s what I saw Hearts as being before I came here,” he added.

“Obviously, we had a difficult year and a half or two years, but this is where I think Hearts should be, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

“It’s night and day. You can see it about the training ground. Everyone comes in bubbly and happy. It’s a great atmosphere - and it’s reflected when we go and play on a Saturday.

“We’re playing well as a team and we’re picking up results, scoring goals and keeping clean sheets. So, it’s all positive at the moment.”