The gap between Hearts and both Celtic & Rangers is getting closer. 

That's the view of Jambos legend Gary Mackay.

It comes just days after Steven Naismith's side were comfortably beaten in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup by Rangers, who marched onto the final with a 2-0 victory.

They will play arch-Glasgow rivals Celtic in the showpiece event on Saturday, May 25. 

It was the second time that Hearts have lost to Rangers at Hampden this season, having also suffered defeat in the League Cup.

But with two victories over Celtic under their belts this term, Mackay believes the gap is closing. 

Since the start of November, Hearts have accumulated 51 points in the Premiership. This stands at just one less than Celtic, and three less than Rangers.

Mackay told the Daily Record: “You look at the resources. Where Hearts are is probably punching slightly above our weight.

"But you have to keep aspiring to get closer to the top two. Unfortunately, the economics of football now doesn’t allow it to happen as much.

“But in the last five or six months our league form has been exceptional. It’s not far behind Rangers and Celtic. It’s a case of going again in the next five games and building towards next season.”

He continued: “I was disappointed (on Sunday). I thought middle to front there wasn’t enough creativity.

“We didn’t get at Rangers as much as we would have liked to. It wasn’t great in an attacking sense. Maybe it’s because it’s a young group, one or two of them were in their first semi-final, so it’s a big ask to go and play a club of Rangers’ standing.

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“But ultimately if you’re in the game to win trophies - and I’m probably not the right person to talk to in relation to winning trophies - then you have to make sure you compete with them.

“That first goal was either going to allow Rangers to breathe or it was going to give Hearts the chance to make it squeaky bum time for Rangers. Unfortunately for Hearts, they never gave themselves an opportunity to get that foothold.

“Everyone needs to be patient with Steven though. It’s a couple of semi-final defeats but it’s his first full year in charge and even Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown - who famously won the cup in 1998 - had a couple of hard hits before that."