First Team

Craig: We Won't Take Talbot Lightly

8th February 2019

Craig Levein has insisted that Hearts will pay Auchinleck Talbot every respect in the Scottish Cup on Sunday by playing a strong line-up.

The Junior team are in scintillating form and knocked out Championship promotion-pushers Ayr United to make it to this stage of the competition.

"I'm looking forward to it," Craig said. "It's an unsual match to be pitched in against sombeody from Junior football. Having played Junior football myself - a long time ago I may add - I know there's a lot of good players playing at that level."

"We're not taking the game lightly. The team line-up will be strong for sure - I just need to wait and see who's all okay. I'm looking forward to the game and I think there's going to be a reasonable crowd as well, which is good."


The last - and only - time the two sides played each other was in 2012, on the way to Hearts' famous Scottish Cup victory. The game itself though was a stuffy affair, with the Jambos prevailing 1-0 thanks to a late Gordon Smith strike.

When asked if a battle of attrition could decide the winner, Craig said: "That's exactly how the game could pan out if we don't move the ball quickly enough. We're a level above where they are, but they're a team that is used to winning every week, who find a way of winning every week, and that's dangerous.

"The speed of the ball will be important, how quickly we can attack will important, and we still need to defend properly as well. If we don't do this properly this could be a tricky afternoon."

The Tynecastle faithful are hoping for a good result after a frustrating midweek match against Livingston which finished 0-0 after the Jambos just couldn't find that final moment of quality in the box.

"I always say to players when they first come here, 'when things are going well it's a great place to play and when you're playing well the supporters are 100% behind you. But, if you're not playing well they'll let you know it'. That's what it's like and that's what it's always been like, as long as I can remember.

"We have to play at a proper tempo and play with intent so they [the supporters] can see that, enjoy the match, and feel good about their team. It's important that we understand that and the players understand that."

Craig was enthusiastic about the return of striker Uche Ikpeazu, who made his first appearance since October when he came off the bench on Wednesday night.

"Even in the short period of time he was on the field, he did some really good things. He ignited the crowd a little bit and got them excited.

"He's worked every so hard to get himself back into good shape and the physios have done a great job in getting him back in good condition. I'm really pleased to get him back and if the other night is any indication he'll go from where he left off."

You can watch all of Craig's press conference on HeartsTV by clicking here.