Ian Cathro believes his players will have got a lot out of last night’s friendly match against St Patrick’s Athletic because their opponents are already halfway through a domestic season.
The Jambos went down 1-0 at Richmond Park in a game that saw wholesale changes at half-time, and the gaffer saw it as the prefect exercise to help build up his group’s fitness.
“It was a really worthwhile workout,” he said. “We got our conditioning up and put in a lot running, which we wanted to do.
“We played against a team that’s pretty much in the full flow of their season so it’s a really good match, I’m really pleased with the game as an exercise for us. So it’s been positive.”
Kyle Lafferty made his first appearance in a Hearts shirt as a second-half substitute and showed a real desire to get on the ball in the final third.
Ian revealed that although he’s glad to have been able to play the Northern Irish international, he’s in no rush to throw him in at the deep end at this stage of pre-season.
“It was important that Kyle got minutes,” Ian said. “He’s not had anywhere near as many training sessions as everyone else so we’re just going gradually with that.
“But it was good for him to get onto the pitch and we’ll go step by step to build him up.”
Another who made his first appearance of this pre-season campaign was Jamie Walker, who missed last week’s win over Livingston through injury.
The winger played 45 minutes and impressed the head coach, despite being behind the group in terms of fitness.
“He missed a couple of days training when we were probably doing some of our harder work so he’s still maybe a little bit behind the group,” said Ian. “I think you saw a good session from him there and he put some work in there as well, so it’s good for him.”
Debutant Ashley Smith-Brown was introduced in the second-half but was replaced by Angus Beith after 27 minutes. Ian was quick to allay fears of any injury concerns however, stating the change was simply precautionary.
“He just felt something when he turned and this is a point in the season where you just don’t need to take any risks,” said Ian. “We’ll just manage that and make sure it’s ok.
“Pre-season is about building our conditioning and also about trying to avoid injury as best we can.”