First Team

MacLean: Competition heating up

12th February 2019

Steven MacLean is delighted to see Uche Ikpeazu back in the first team because he believes more competition for places can only be a good thing.

The big striker partnered MacLean up front in Hearts’ 4-0 Scottish Cup win over Auchinleck Talbot on Sunday, with Macca bagging the game’s third goal.

Happy to be starting and scoring, MacLean hopes to have impressed the manager as Hearts gear up for this Sunday’s Ladbrokes Premiership match away to Motherwell, but knows everyone is fighting to get their name in the starting line up.

“It’s nice to be back playing and scoring, but the most important thing was the result,” he said. “It could have been sticky but we got the result. 

“We’ve got a decent sized squad now. If you’re not doing your job, you’ll be out the side and there’s plenty of boys waiting to come in. 

There’s lots of competition for places now, it keeps everybody on your toes so when you get a chance, you need to take it.

“Having Big Uche back, it brings a different dimension. I’ve got a great relationship with him, he’s a big gentle giant. He won’t be like that to play against! 

“I love the big guy. He always wants to learn, and listen from me and Naisy, and he wants to try things in training. 

“He attracts attention and the ball is just dragged towards him, so he gives us more space to play in. He’s got a bit about him, he’s not just a big lump. 

“He’s very good one vs ones, and having him back will hopefully get us back to the more free-flowing stuff from earlier this season.”