First Team

Uche: We Know What's Required

1st March 2019

Uche Ikpeazu says his Hearts teammates know what is expected from them in their upcoming games following their performance against Celtic. 

The Jambos were unfortunate to lose to the Bhoys during the week, when Odsonne Edouard scored a last-minute winner to ensure a 2-1 win for the league leaders.

The manner of the defeat was all the more impressive given Hearts played the entire second-half with ten men following Jamie Brandon's red card.

"Playing Celtic with eleven men is hard enough as it is so I had to work hard for the team," Uche said following the game. "In many ways, it's bittersweet really. We were so close to getting a great result because we all know how well they've been doing so with ten men especially, to draw the game 1-1 would have been an exceptional result, considering the circumstances." 

Despite the final score, the performance was encouraging as Hearts prepare to travel to Glasgow to take on Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup quarter-final on Monday night.

"The way we performed as a team, I believe we've set the bar now," Uche said. "We've got to kick on and the positive we can take is that it was a brilliant performance from everyone individually and collectively. The fans were right by our side and if we continue to play like that we'll do well."

When Ikpeazu was replaced in the final ten minutes, he left the pitch to a standing ovation and despite not getting on the scoresheet, his play impacted the game hugely.

"I was disappointed last week, I don't feel I performed well and in recent weeks I don't feel I've hit the level I know I can play. I have more to give.

"I had to work hard for the team and I think I was back to myself again, I physically felt good and me leading from the front set the tone for the team. In recent weeks, I haven't fully felt myself but I've worked really hard and I felt against Celtic I was back to myself and I can really kick on now."

The reception meant even more to Uche as he has only just returned from an injury that saw him sitting on the sidelines for four months. 

"It was very difficult for me being injured, especially the way I started the season. I had goals and targets and I genuinely believe I would've got there. But, I've had to take a step back and start again which is difficult for me. 

"I've worked ever so hard to come back and when the team was losing it was so frustrating. When you come back into a team that's been losing it's difficult sometimes, because you want to come and lift the team but the confidence might be low. But, there's loads of positives to take."

That foot injury ruled Uche out of the Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic, which saw Hearts lose 3-0 at Murrayfield.

"Watching it was crazy," Uche admitted. I saw how many fans were in the stadium and I would have loved to be a part of it. I missed that game, so I want to be a part of it this time."

However, the Englishman is wary of the threat Partick Thistle could pose but is confident in his ability to get the job done.

"There's always upsets in these cup games. Everyone is probably expecting us to win and that can work against you because people think 'they've got to win'. I believe if we do what we do, we'll win. We've just got to focus on ourselves and not the opposition."

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