‘I hope I never experience it again in my life’ - Naisy on pain of City relegation

Former Norwich City midfielder Steven Naismith is in a sticky situation with Hearts at the bottom en

Former Norwich City midfielder Steven Naismith is in a sticky situation with Hearts at the bottom end of the Scottish Premiership Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Steven Naismith has one relegation on his CV from an unhappy spell at Norwich City - he is desperate to avoid another with ailing Hearts.

Naismith has revived his career north of the border, and returned to the international fold with Scotland, after ending a three-year stint at Carrow Road with a free transfer move last summer.

The 33-year-old was bought to keep City in the Premier League, in one of the club's biggest ever transfer deals back in January 2016, but found himself in the Championship six months later.

Naismith was unable to establish himself as a regular under either Alex Neil or Daniel Farke before turning an extended loan stint into a permanent Hearts' switch, who now sit bottom of the Scottish Premiership ahead of a daunting trip to champions Celtic on Wednesday.

"Relegation is never nice because it says that you've not done well enough, as a team and as a player," said Naismith, who signed a four-year deal last summer. "It's not a nice feeling at all. I hope I never experience it again in my life and we will fight to avoid it.

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"It's personal pride and determination that would be hurt more than anything else, but it's not as if people are shying away from it. As I do every time, I'll be doing everything I can for the club to try to push us up the table.

"I didn't come here to be fighting a relegation battle - but there is a reality that we need to understand. We are in a relegation fight.

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"It's not nice but, away from that, at least it's in our hands at the moment. We need to make sure we keep it that way.

"Since the turn of the year, there have been more boys putting in performances and trying to cement their place in the team rather than just think, 'I'm not really bothered if I'm not playing because I'm nervous, worried and don't want to be involved in these types of games'."

Naismith has scored six goals in 17 appearances in an injury-disrupted campaign, but insists they can shock the Bhoys.

"Celtic don't just have one or two special players who, if you keep them quiet, it gives you a better chance - every one of their players has that one special moment in them," said the Hearts' captain speaking to the Scotsman.

"But since the manager has come in, we are creating more chances and that alone gives you the belief you can win games. I have been on the other side of this as an Old Firm player, and, if teams have a go, it can rock you a little bit.

"We are a bit more open in the way we play and that leads to more chances, but we also know we need to defend well otherwise the game will be over before it really starts."

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