First Team

Craig targeting Pittodrie victory

2nd August 2019

Craig Levein is expecting a tough Pittodrie encounter on Sunday because he doesn’t believe Aberdeen will suffer any ill effects from their European campaign.

The Jambos open up their 2019/20 Ladbrokes Premiership campaign in the north, with the Dons back in action only three days after playing a Europa League qualifier.

The manager thinks Derek McInnes will have his side well versed in how to handle two games in a short space of time but insists it doesn’t change Hearts’ aim of starting the season with a victory.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Craig said: “It’s a tough place to go but I long ago stopped worrying about the fixture list.

“There’s nothing we can do about it. We’ve prepared for the Aberdeen game as well as we can.

“We’ll see if we can go up there and get three points. That is the gameplan.

“Once you’ve done it (played in Europe) as many times as Aberdeen have recently then you’ll know what you’re facing and what to expect.

“Derek will know whether he needs to change some players to freshen things up because he’s been very successful in that regard.

“I don’t expect Aberdeen to be in any way weakened by their European exploits.”

The Jam Tarts received a huge boost ahead of the game with the capture of Steven Naismith on a permanent deal.

The Scotland forward signed a four-year contract yesterday, and Craig has revealed that Naisy could be pulling on the maroon jersey sooner rather than later.

“He might be on the bench on Sunday,” he said. “We need to see how he gets through training in the next couple of days and then we’ll see.”

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