Christophe Berra can make up for his Scotland hurt by helping to fire Hearts back into Europe, according to Jambos team-mate Jon McLaughlin.
Tynecastle skipper Berra was part of the Scots line-up which saw hopes of reaching next summer’s World Cup crumble in Slovenia on Sunday.
It is a bitter blow for a country which is now looking back on 20 years in the international wilderness.
McLaughlin knows Berra will be feeling low in the wake of that setback in Ljubljana but the keeper believes grabbing a Europa League slot at the end of this season could be the perfect way to lift his captain’s spirits.
“Christophe is obviously very disappointed,” said the stopper. “It was a long international campaign for him and it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster.
“It’s bitterly disappointing the way it’s ended up for Christophe and for the rest of the lads involved in the national team.
“They obviously know the damage was done a lot earlier on in the campaign but their recent form was good.
“They are unbeaten in seven and felt as a squad they were good enough to win the other night. It’s never easy at international level.
“But with Christophe’s age and experience, he will move on from that and concentrate fully on Hearts.
“Could qualifying for Europe with us help sooth his pain and give him a new focus? Well that’s just it.
“Whenever you face one disappointment you’ve got to look for other ways to combat that. You think, ‘How can I pick myself up’ – so you give yourself another focus, another drive.
“There’s still plenty for him and everyone here to play for and if that gives him the kick to really put more effort in then that’s fantastic for us.”
Hearts play their final game on the road this weekend away to Ross County before a 10-game run of fixtures all scheduled to take place within the city limits of Edinburgh.
And McLaughlin reckons his side – currently sitting seventh – will be able to start climbing the Ladbrokes Premiership table once they return to familiar surroundings .
He said: “I think we are at the level of the teams above us. As always, it’s been the fine margins in the games so far that have gone against us.
“There’s a lot of points we’ve left out there and we need to tighten up at the back. Clean sheets are going to be massive for us.
“But we’re certainly not a team looking at performances and wondering, ‘How do we win these games?’ because we’re miles away.
“We’re not. We’re right in every game, being by far the better team creating the better chances. We just need to find a way to convert those chances into goals, and then into points.”