DANIEL STENDEL said his Hearts players were like rabbits caught in headlights as they wilted at Celtic Park last night.

The Tynecastle boss accused his men of being dazzled by their opponents and the occasion as they collapsed to lose four goals after the interval in their 5-0 defeat.

"I want to try and give the players the feeling we have a chance," Stendel said. "Our plan was good but our game wasn’t like our plan.

"We played like rabbits in the headlights. From the first moment you could see the look.

"We tried to change our confidence on the pitch with the substitutions from Washington on the pitch then we conceded.

"After this we played a little bit better and we wanted to keep it in the second half but five minutes into the second half the game went against us."

Stendel concedes that it will be difficult to repair the fragile confidence of his players after their mauling in Glasgow in time for Saturday's crucial home game against Hamilton, with injuries also hampering their hopes of a vital win.

"Last week our home game was a big punch when we played Kilmarnock," he said.

"On Saturday we won in the cup. We have some injured players. Sean Clare and Michael Smith played at the last moment but they needed to come off.

"We need the players at the moment. There have been a lot of games in the last 18 days and we don’t have so many options to change some positions. We struggled sometimes but it doesn’t matter, this is our situation.

"We need to sort it and on Saturday we need to fight for every ball. This is what I expect from my players.

"It is very difficult for us to keep our confidence and stay together but it’s the one and only way for us in difficult moments.

"It was a very difficult night tonight but we must stay together and look forward to Saturday."