First Team

Craig: Strikers can cope without Naisy

7th March 2019

Craig Levein believes his side will start putting away more chances in front of goal despite losing the services of Steven Naismith.

The Scotland striker will go under the knife next week in a bid to cure a troublesome cartilage injury, which will leave him facing around two months on the sidelines.

The manager hopes to see him back in a maroon shirt before the season ends but admits he’s not tearing his hair out over the situation because he has more attacking players at his disposal compared to the last time Naisy was forced to sit out.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Craig said: “I feel for Steven, more than anybody else. He’s worked ever so hard to get back the last time and then this happens again.

“He needs to get back fit again. That will be his primary concern at the moment.

“He goes for an op on Monday. It’s unfortunate but it is what it is. I think he’s getting a little bit shaved off his cartilage again. Last time he was eight to ten weeks out.

“I hope we see him again before the end of the season. He came back really quickly last time, so I’m hopeful it will be the same again.

“When he was out previously we had a shortage of strikers. Craig Wighton is back and fully fit after his ankle problem, and we’ve got David Vanecek and Uche, so it’s a different situation altogether.

“I don’t feel quite as anxious about the situation with Steven not being in the team because previously when he wasn’t in the team when Uche wasn’t as well and that made things more difficult.

“We’ve had a crazy kind of three or four weeks. We’ve kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times when we’ve been in good positions in matches.

“It’s the same team that had a lot of clean sheets earlier in the season, and I think we just need to focus more on not making any basic errors. If teams are going to beat us then they will have to play well. That would be my message.

“If you can get a couple of goals then it’s a big task for any team to come back in this league. First and foremost, you can’t always guarantee that you’re going to score when opportunities arise.

“We’ve missed some really good chances but putting pressure on players to score doesn’t work. The have to feel confident.

“What we can do is create chances and we’ve been doing that. I’m confident that we’ll take the chances more often than we have been doing recently.”

Craig’s pre-match press conference is available to watch in full on HeartsTV by clicking here.