{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"hearts","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-set-to-offer-whole-of-roseburn-stand-to-old-firm-fans-1-4430338","id":"1.4430338","articleHeadline": "Hearts set to offer whole of Roseburn Stand to Old Firm fans","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493217832000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts are set to offer Rangers and Celtic fans the entire Roseburn Stand next season unless season-ticket sales “exceed expectations”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430336.1493217828!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rangers and Celtic fans are likely to be allocated the entire Roseburn Stand next season"} ,"articleBody": "

Both Glasgow teams had their allocations cut from 3500 to 1400 and were confined to two sections of the stand behind the goal as the Edinburgh clubs sought to tap into the feelgood factor after emerging from administration in 2014 by allowing more of their own fans into the Category A fixtures.

However, with redevelopment work over the summer set to increase the capacity of Tynecastle by around 3000, Hearts are looking into the possibility of restoring the traditional allocations of the Old Firm in an effort to ensure the ground is filled for those matches. A final decision will be made once the club review season-ticket sales over the course of the close season.

“We are aware that this will not be a popular decision with all fans, but we hope you will appreciate the economic reality involved, namely that the club must try to maximise attendance,” read a club statement. “Should season-ticket sales exceed our current expectations this would, of course, be revisited.”

City rivals Hibs are the only club to have been offered the full Roseburn Stand in recent seasons, and this arrangement is set to remain in place regardless of ticket sales. Season tickets for the new-look stadium will go on sale next month, with details available on the club website. The new main stand, which will bring total capacity to 20,099, is due to open in September, with all league games prior to that set to be staged away from home. Tynecastle will host any Betfred Cup or Europa League ties over the summer with just three stands open.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4430336.1493217828!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4430336.1493217828!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rangers and Celtic fans are likely to be allocated the entire Roseburn Stand next season","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rangers and Celtic fans are likely to be allocated the entire Roseburn Stand next season","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4430336.1493217828!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/partick-thistle-out-to-grab-fifth-spot-from-hearts-1-4429059","id":"1.4429059","articleHeadline": "Partick Thistle out to grab fifth spot from Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493184653000 ,"articleLead": "

Partick Thistle have warned Hearts they want to steal fifth place and leave the Edinburgh club finishing sixth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429058.1493131247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Esmael Goncalves battles for the ball against Partick's Daniel Devine. The pair will do battle again on Saturday. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, who spent seven years at Tynecastle, made the bold statement that Thistle are out to usurp Hearts as the teams prepare to meet on Saturday.

Ridgers is second choice behind Tomas Cerny at Firhill but is well aware of the unrest amongst some supporters at his former club.

Hearts have won only five league games since Christmas, while Thistle have enjoyed a remarkable run from the bottom of the table to secure a top-six place for the first time in 36 years.

With just four points separating the two sides, Ridgers believes sixth-placed Partick can capitalise on Hearts’ inconsistency this weekend and ultimately finish above them.

“We can still catch Hearts,” he told the Evening News. “Saturday’s game isn’t one where you just turn up and there’s nothing really to play for.

“The way things are at Tynecastle, Hearts are a bit inconsistent. That gives us an opportunity to try and take them and actually finish fifth if we get a positive result there. We’re in that position where people will look at us and think: ‘They’ve got into the top six but they’ll be the whipping boys.’ To finish fifth would be massive for us. That’s the next goal while we’re in the top six, to try and catch Hearts and see what else happens round about us.”

Ridgers explained that Thistle will be looking to upset the home support at Tynecastle and use any discontent to their advantage.

“That’s one of the things we have to play on. A lot of the guys who have played at Tynecastle realise that,” continued the 26-year-old, who joined Partick in January on a short-term contract until the end of the season.

“I was there for so long and you know how it works. You can get the home fans restless and on the team’s back with the inconsistency Hearts have had recently, both in performances and results.

“If we can go there and frustrate them by continuing to do what we’ve been doing, we have a big opportunity to get there and unsettle the fans. Hopefully that can get us a positive result against a Hearts team that’s still trying to find its feet by the looks of things.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4429058.1493131247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429058.1493131247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts' Esmael Goncalves battles for the ball against Partick's Daniel Devine. The pair will do battle again on Saturday. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Esmael Goncalves battles for the ball against Partick's Daniel Devine. The pair will do battle again on Saturday. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4429058.1493131247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/ex-hearts-keeper-mark-ridgers-explains-partick-thistle-s-rise-1-4429139","id":"1.4429139","articleHeadline": "Ex-Hearts keeper Mark Ridgers explains Partick Thistle’s rise","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493184614000 ,"articleLead": "

Bottom of the Premiership in December, Partick Thistle’s top-six charge was sharper than any of the iconic prickly plants they are named after.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429137.1493134095!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Partick Thistle"} ,"articleBody": "

They aren’t content simply with a top-half finish and are now out to overhaul fifth-placed Hearts, starting on Saturday at Tynecastle.

The Edinburgh side are four points better off than their overachieving Glasgow opponents as the Premiership’s post-split fixtures begin. That gap is very much seen as surmountable by a Thistle team bringing serious momentum to the Capital.

The astute Alan Archibald has secured Partick’s best finish in 36 years since they came sixth in 1981. He has done so on a paltry budget which is the second smallest in the division. The achievement will earn the club up to £500,000 in extra revenue as they prepare to host Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen at Firhill before the season ends.

The magnitude of the turnaround is still sinking in up in Maryhill. Thistle sat bottom of the league four months ago before an astonishing ascent up the table. Archibald is only 39 and four years into his first managerial job but is succeeding where others often fail with impressive man-management. He is even making non-playing squad members feel part of the success.

“The manager has been brilliant the way he’s done things. I’ve only been here since January but to lose only three league games – two of them against Aberdeen and Rangers – is massive credit to the team. They’ve been playing really well and they deserve the plaudits coming their way,” said Mark Ridgers, the former Hearts goalkeeper now second choice at Firhill behind Tomas Cerny.

“Defensively, they’ve looked solid. As I’ve always said in this league, when you have a goalscorer it really helps. Wee Kris Doolan is popping up with big goals.”

Doolan’s record of nine in his last 18 games since Christmas is the obvious catalyst for Partick’s resurgence. “For the club to get into the top six is massive, especially the way they did it,” continued Ridgers. “I wouldn’t say it was done comfortably but you look where they are. The club haven’t finished in the top six for 30-odd years. For a lot of people, this is something different. Not looking over their shoulders for the next five games is a big thing for them. It gives them an opportunity to go out and express themselves.

“Obviously I don’t know myself what other teams are spending but you look at it from the outside and you get a rough idea that certain teams spend a bit more than others. Thistle have a good team spirit and a good bunch of lads who work for each other.

“They weren’t on a good run when I got there. To be bottom in December and go and finish in the top six is a massive credit to all the boys. They’ve been flying since Christmas and the manager has been fantastic. You see the players all get on well with him. That’s key. If the players and manager are on the same side, you’re going to get results because the players will work for the manager. That’s what’s happened.”

Ridgers, now 26, played for seven years at Tynecastle but couldn’t establish himself as first-choice goalkeeper and left in 2014. He spent 2016 in America’s United Soccer League with Orlando City B and returned to Scotland last December looking for a club.

“I spoke to some people about Partick Thistle. I went up to watch them at Ross County and they won,” he said. “I could see they play really good football and they deserved that win. I watched them at Tynecastle as well when they drew 1-1. Jack Hamilton had a couple of really good saves for Hearts that day, so they had chances.

“The boys told me after I signed that they felt unlucky in some of the games. They thought they were doing enough to get points but weren’t getting the luck. Sometimes it goes for you in football and sometimes it doesn’t.

“I joke with all the boys that I’m the sideline mascot and that’s why things have picked up since I signed. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason. They changed formation to three at the back and that’s helped. Defensively, they don’t give away many chances.

“Tomas Cerny is doing well in goal, Liam Lindsay and Danny Devine have been solid in defence with Niall Keown, who came in on loan from Reading. That’s important. If you keep the opposition out and you have a goalscorer in your team, there’s always a chance.”

Realistically, Ridgers knows he will need to move on this summer if he wants regular football. “I’m here till the end of the season. I haven’t spoken to Partick yet,” he said. “I’ve been in a few of these situations over the last few years. I’m going to see what options are available and do what’s best for myself.

“You’re looking for a stable contract for three or four years but that doesn’t really happen now. Hopefully we can finish well with Thistle and if I can get one or two games in over the next month then it would be good. Then I’ll sit down with my agent and see what’s best.

“I’m one of those people, I don’t know if it’s bad luck or what, I just find myself in a situation I can’t really do much about. At Hearts, the goalkeepers always did really well when I was there. At St Mirren, things went against me. I don’t think my performances were anything to do with that, really.

“I got a full season in America so I’ve got games behind my belt. I’ve played over 150 competitive games so it would be nice to get a break. That’s the plan in the summer. Look somewhere where I feel I’ve got a good opportunity to play again. It just has to be right for myself.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4429137.1493134095!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429137.1493134095!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Partick Thistle","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Partick Thistle","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4429137.1493134095!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4429138.1493134097!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429138.1493134097!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mark Ridgers","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark Ridgers","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4429138.1493134097!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/rory-currie-fires-hat-trick-for-hearts-under-20s-1-4429423","id":"1.4429423","articleHeadline": "Rory Currie fires hat-trick for Hearts Under-20s","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493147917000 ,"articleLead": "

Rory Currie bagged three goals as Hearts Under-20s put Aberdeen to the sword with a 3-1 win in the SPFL Development League at North Lodge Park.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429422.1493147912!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rory Currie"} ,"articleBody": "

Currie has made an impact at senior level under head coach Ian Cathro and this hat-trick will have no doubt strengthened his case to be included in the squad for the weekend clash with Partick.

It took the 19-year-old less than a minute to open the scoring in Pitmedden, firing past Dons goalkeeper David Craddock.

However, Aberdeen responded five minutes later through Dean Campbell as he got the better of Kelby Mason in the Hearts goal.

The wee Jambos got their noses back in front just before the interval when Currie netted again on 44 minutes and as the hosts pressed for an equaliser, Currie rounded off his hat-trick with a goal on 77 minutes as Andy Kirk’s men sealed all three points.

Hearts Under-20s: Mason, Brandon, Reid, Hamilton, Smith, Petkov, Morrison, Beith (C), Roy, Currie, Moore. Paton, Irving, Akers, Baxter.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4429422.1493147912!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429422.1493147912!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rory Currie","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rory Currie","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4429422.1493147912!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/winning-matters-more-than-performance-hearts-boss-cathro-1-4428171","id":"1.4428171","articleHeadline": "Winning matters more than performance – Hearts boss Cathro","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493098209000 ,"articleLead": "

Ian Cathro admits winning is Hearts’ priority over performance during the final five games of the season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428170.1493050262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Cathro wants his team to make correct decisions"} ,"articleBody": "

The Edinburgh club must overhaul a four-point deficit between themselves and St Johnstone to finish fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership and qualify for Europe.

Stylish victories are Cathro’s preference but, as he prepares his squad to face Partick Thistle at Tynecastle this weekend, the Hearts head coach acknowledged that winning is all that matters at this stage in the campaign.

“If it’s not a spectacle and we win 1-0, I’m happy because we won. The performance is about how we win,” he told the Evening News. “I don’t want anybody to be confused that we’re focusing on performing well and that doesn’t mean we’re focusing on winning.

“We are focusing on winning and we believe that performing well, making the right decisions and doing the right things are what help us to win. It’s important to be clear on that.

“What I want to do in every single game is win. The performance is there to help you win. The more correct decisions we make in a game, the stronger we are collectively, make it more likely that we’ll perform better and win.”

Thistle’s arrival begins the post-split fixtures and, after Hibs’ defeat in the Scottish Cup semi-finals, fourth place in the Premiership will permit entry to the Europa League first qualifying round. That is Hearts’ stated target but they must fend off competition from St Johnstone and Partick. Results have been inconsistent and performances haven’t reached the standard Cathro demands. “We understand the only thing everybody is interested in is seeing an improvement in results. We focus every day on improving ourselves, and I believe performing well will help us to win,” he continued.

“The only thing that matters right now is us being ready to compete and do what we need to do in the next game.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4428170.1493050262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428170.1493050262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Cathro wants his team to make correct decisions","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Cathro wants his team to make correct decisions","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4428170.1493050262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/ex-hearts-man-danny-grainger-loving-academy-life-in-cumbria-1-4428005","id":"1.4428005","articleHeadline": "Ex-Hearts man Danny Grainger loving academy life in Cumbria","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493098208000 ,"articleLead": "

Promotion is the immediate priority for Danny Grainger and Carlisle United. Securing a play-off place and subsequent leverage into League One after a three-year absence would be the perfect gift for supporters at Brunton Park. Grainger, though, is working extra hours to leave a lasting legacy across the entire Cumbria region.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428003.1493042592!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Grainger"} ,"articleBody": "

England’s rural north west isn’t known as a hotbed for burgeoning football talent, but the former Hearts defender is aiming to change all that with his Cumbria Football Academy. He has already supplied Queen of the South and Carlisle with players and is now targeting other clubs further afield.

He gathers promising teens from around the Cumbria region together once a week for extra training sessions. They also take part in friendlies against youth teams from nearby professional clubs and, when the time is right, some get the opportunity to move on and join those clubs.

It is a useful solution to a geographical problem devised by Grainger and his close friend Gary Dicker of Kilmarnock. Two years ago, they began coaching local Cumbrian kids and recognised that talent in the area was being overlooked because it was outwith the catchment area of most professional clubs.

The pair, then Carlisle team-mates, decided to open their own academy for youngsters aged 14-16. So successful has it been that it is being expanded into neighbouring Lancashire. Grainger had to employ another coach when Dicker joined Kilmarnock in January but the transition has been seamless and the boys under his tutelage continue to flourish.

“Myself and Gary started doing some coaching locally a couple of years ago. We realised there were a few good players around who were getting missed by local teams,” Grainger explained to the Evening News. “We decided to open a little academy to bridge the gap between grass roots and the professional game. We had an open trial match and selected players from the local area who we could bring in for weekly sessions.

“They still played for their local teams and trained with us once a week. On school holidays, we’d go and play against professional youth teams like Carlisle United and Queen of the South. Gary left just after Christmas and I brought in Michael Yarker, who is a really good coach from down here and is trying to get his UEFA coaching badges finished.

“From the first session I did with Dicker, we had a goalkeeper who I recommended to Queen of the South and they signed him straight away. It’s a big catchment area and there are only so many players the scouts around here can get. Like any area, there are always one or two who slip through the net. Since we’ve opened this academy, we’ve had three players signed by Queen of the South and two by Carlisle United. We’re delighted how it’s running at the moment.”

Expansion is inevitable when you are successful and Grainger has been pro-active in that sense. He sees the chance to gain a foothold slightly further south and is already putting building blocks in place.

“We’ve now got under-13, under-14, under-15 and under-16 teams. We play against Carlisle, Queens, Annan, Workington Reds, and we’re in the process of opening another academy down in Kendal,” he continued. “That will be another branch and I can then get in touch with teams in that catchment area like Morecambe, Accrington and others.”

At 30, he has perhaps caught the coaching bug slightly earlier than most footballers. The veteran years of his career are not yet upon him but there is no doubt he feels strongly about passing on what he has learned. Grainger represented Gretna, Dundee United, St Johnstone, Hearts, St Mirren and Dunfermline and gained a fair insight into football coaching and management in the process.

“I’m finishing off my UEFA A Licence at the moment and I feel passionately about coaching. I really enjoy it,” he said. “I feel I can take a little bit from a lot of people I’ve worked with in my career. I still speak to lads I played with who are doing a bit of coaching, like Paul Sheerin, Jon Daly and Andy Webster. I’m really close with Gavin Skelton, who was manager at Queen of the South [now a player at Annan Athletic].

“I’m quite lucky I’ve got a group of lads there who I can speak to about the coaching side of things. Carlisle are also good with me. They let me get involved in their centre of excellence when I can as well.

“I’m passionate about coaching and I’ve got a real buzz for it. I’ve worked under managers like Craig Levein, Derek McInnes, Jim Jefferies and Paulo Sergio. I’ve been lucky and I’ve learned a lot. I know management isn’t easy but it’s something I would look at doing.

“I’ve set the academy up and hopefully, in the next couple of years, it’ll be able to run itself with the people who will be on board. I can maybe concentrate on coaching on a different side. [Professional] coaching jobs don’t just fall on your doorstep, though. I’ll be trying to get into coaching when I finish playing but, if it doesn’t happen, hopefully I can stick with my academy and push that forward.”

For now, as Carlisle captain, he is trying to kick their promotion bid into overdrive. Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Crawley Town left United tenth in England’s League Two but only one point off the play-off zone. They proudly sat top of the table as recently as December before events began conspiring against them.

“It’s been a disappointing second half of the season, disrupted by players being injured. We don’t use that as an excuse,” admitted Grainger. “We should’ve done better so we’ll push forward and try to get a play-off place.

“We’ve had three draws on the bounce in our last three games and we dominated all three of them. We should’ve taken all three points. So, instead of sitting comfortably in the play-off places, we face an uphill battle to get back in there. We now have two big games coming up against Newport and Exeter to try and get that play-off spot.”

Grainger is satisfied that his club are progressing year-on-year, regardless of whether they achieve their stated aim this term or not.

“When the manager, Keith Curle, came in, we were nine points adrift at the bottom of the English Football League. We’ve progressed every year and, if we see an improvement, we could finish with a really good season. Play-offs are a lottery, it’s who turns up on the day.”

Whether turning up for a crunch play-off tie or a coaching session with teenagers, rest assured Grainger will give it his all.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4428003.1493042592!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428003.1493042592!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Danny Grainger","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Danny Grainger","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4428003.1493042592!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4428004.1493042596!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428004.1493042596!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Grainger, centre, celebrates after scoring his Hearts' third goal in the 2012 Scottish Cup final","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Grainger, centre, celebrates after scoring his Hearts' third goal in the 2012 Scottish Cup final","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4428004.1493042596!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-defender-callum-paterson-begins-running-after-knee-injury-1-4428078","id":"1.4428078","articleHeadline": "Hearts defender Callum Paterson begins running after knee injury","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493046807639 ,"articleLead": "Hearts full-back Callum Paterson began running today for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428077.1493046880!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Paterson taking the first steps on his road to recovery at Edinburgh's Shawfair Park Hospital"} ,"articleBody": "

Paterson took to a specialised supporting treadmill inside Edinburgh's Shawfair Park Hospital to start his comeback after damaging cruciate and medial ligaments in his left knee last December.

He is not expected to be fully fit again until August or September but the first day of running represents a significant hurdle for the player.

"First day back running today since my injury! Delighted with the progress but still a long way to go," said Paterson on his Instagram account.

At Hearts' official end-of-season awards on Sunday night, Paterson won the Overall Young Player of the Year award plus Goal of the Season for his strike against Motherwell at Fir Park in September.

The 22-year-old has told Hearts he won't sign a new contract when his current one expires in June. He intends to continue his career elsewhere once he is fit.

The Edinburgh club will be due between £400,000 and £450,000 in training compensation when he signs for another team.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4428077.1493046880!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4428077.1493046880!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Callum Paterson taking the first steps on his road to recovery at Edinburgh's Shawfair Park Hospital","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Callum Paterson taking the first steps on his road to recovery at Edinburgh's Shawfair Park Hospital","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4428077.1493046880!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/jamie-walker-wants-to-fire-hearts-into-europe-1-4427962","id":"1.4427962","articleHeadline": "Jamie Walker wants to fire Hearts into Europe","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493040528000 ,"articleLead": "

Jamie Walker aims to rediscover his goalscoring touch to help Hearts into Europe after Hibs’ Hampden defeat opened up the prospect of an early start to next season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427961.1493040584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker"} ,"articleBody": "

Hibs’ William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final loss to Aberdeen ensured fourth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership will mean qualification for the Europa League.

But St Johnstone are in pole position with a four-point lead over Hearts and Walker knows they will need to improve in front of goal.

The midfielder notched his 15th goal of the season in a 4-0 win over Hamilton last month but the team only scored once in the next five matches.

Walker told Hearts TV: “I have had 15 goals for quite a few games and I have gone off the boil with my form a bit. We have five big games and hopefully we can get a European spot.

“It’s massive for a club like Hearts. We want to be playing in big games at Tynecastle in the Europa League.

“Everyone is pushing and working hard and hopefully we can get that fourth spot.”

Walker was speaking after being voted the club’s player of the year by both Hearts fans and his team-mates.

“It’s an honour for me as a Hearts fan myself, so I’m delighted,” the 23-year-old said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PETER WALES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4427961.1493040584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427961.1493040584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Walker","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4427961.1493040584!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/jamie-walker-named-hearts-player-of-the-year-1-4427649","id":"1.4427649","articleHeadline": "Jamie Walker named Hearts Player of the Year","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493025295859 ,"articleLead": "

Jamie Walker won both Players' Player of the Year and Fans' Player of the Year at Hearts' end-of-season awards ceremony.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427648.1493025419!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker is the Hearts Player of the Year"} ,"articleBody": "

The winger was voted as the Edinburgh club's outstanding player by both his team-mates and supporters having scored 15 goals so far in the campaign.

Defender Callum Paterson won the Overall Young Player of the Year award, plus Goal of the Season for his strike against Motherwell at Fir Park in September.

Teenage striker Rory Currie was the Under-20 Player of the Year, while Euan Henderson was named Under-17 Player of the Year.

Hearts' Special Recognition Award went to midfielder Arnaud Djoum for helping Cameroon win the African Cup of Nations in February.

" ,"byline": {"email": "barry.anderson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Barry Anderson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4427648.1493025419!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427648.1493025419!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jamie Walker is the Hearts Player of the Year","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jamie Walker is the Hearts Player of the Year","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4427648.1493025419!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-midfielder-angus-beith-set-to-gain-more-game-time-1-4427268","id":"1.4427268","articleHeadline": "Hearts midfielder Angus Beith set to gain more game time","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493011833000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts midfielder Angus Beith will get more first-team games towards the end of this season and into next to enhance his development.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427267.1492964047!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Angus Beith has impressed Hearts head coach Ian Cathro"} ,"articleBody": "

Head coach Ian Cathro believes the 21-year-old has key attributes required in midfield and plans to give him more game time over the coming months.

Beith has made only three competitive appearances for Hearts so far in his fledgling career, most recently against Celtic earlier this month.

He was twice loaned to Stirling Albion and once to Stenhousemuir and suffered some untimely injury problems which interrupted his progress. However, he is now pressing to establish himself at Tynecastle.

Cathro feels the player is ready to handle first-team football at Premiership level and praised the quality he has shown so far.

“Angus has been training with us and worked with us full-time since returning from his loan in January. He has qualities in his play that I like,” Cathro told the Evening News.

“He’s a type of midfield player who can do the things I want inside the team. We have to assess him properly and make sure he continues to develop.

“His work will determine his opportunities. These things are down to the players. He’s a young player who has certainly reached a point where he’s ready for competition. It’s down to each one of them if that’s here and if it’s right now.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4427267.1492964047!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4427267.1492964047!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Angus Beith has impressed Hearts head coach Ian Cathro","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Angus Beith has impressed Hearts head coach Ian Cathro","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4427267.1492964047!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/maroon-memories-fifty-year-wait-for-cup-is-ended-in-style-1-4423525","id":"1.4423525","articleHeadline": "Maroon Memories: Fifty-year wait for Cup is ended in style","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492839057000 ,"articleLead": "

IF Hearts’ search for the Scottish Cup had been long, there was no doubt that this victory in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden went to the better side.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423524.1492615378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hearts team parade the Scottish Cup along Princes Street"} ,"articleBody": "

There have been more exciting finals but Hearts fully deserved their triumph. The Edinburgh club, last winners 50 years previous – had been acclaimed for the skill and ability of their sides for years – yet they always flattered to deceive.

When they finally laid the hoodoo, it was with a display of real fighting spirit at a time when it was most needed.

The Tynecastle team always looked better than Celtic yet, when they went in at half-time only one goal to the good, and having had the aid of a strong breeze, there were those who said that Hearts had lost their chance.

In the end, Hearts played as a team while Celtic were a disjointed company.

Supporters of the Glasgow side were unhappy at the decision to play right back Mike Haughney at inside right; on the face of it, a strange transposition but Celtic had a heavy injury list and Haughney had originally been signed from Junior football as a forward.

Dave Mackay, John Cumming and Ian Crawford were the key men for Hearts when things looked as if they might take a turn for the worse.

Mackay had the job of watching the left wing pair of Charlie Tully and Willie Fernie, the latter one of the cleverest players in the game, and performed magnificently to blunt that spearhead.

With Celtic’s Neilly Mochan held in complete check by centre-half Freddie Glidden and Cumming, despite a nasty cut above his left eye which required stitches, the Celtic forward line never got a chance to function as a unit.

Crawford’s goals came when they were required to settle the nerves of his team-mates. His first came after 20 minutes when Willie Bauld made a pass to Alfie Conn, who promptly transferred the ball to Crawford. Dick Beattie managed to get his fingers to his shot ball but could not keep it out of the net.

Three minutes into the second half, Crawford scored a second goal. Bauld was the architect.

He trailed the ball down the left wing, eluded Bobby Evans, and then sent over a nice cross.

Alex Young was on the spot to head it down to Crawford, who had moved into the inside-right berth, and Hearts were further ahead.

The jubilation of the Jambos was curbed when Haughney caused Willie Duff to drop a Tully free kick and the back-turned-forward prodded home one for Celtic.

It was then that Hearts answered their critics.

Celtic stormed forward but the Tynecastle side gradually got on top again and, with ten minutes left, they settled the issue with a third goal.

Conn was the marksman but, again, Bauld was the man who started the move.

Hearts: Duff, Kirk, McKenzie, Mackay, Glidden, Cumming, Young, Conn, Bauld, Wardhaugh, Crawford.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Celtic 1, Hearts 3. April 22, 1956"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423524.1492615378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423524.1492615378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Hearts team parade the Scottish Cup along Princes Street","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hearts team parade the Scottish Cup along Princes Street","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423524.1492615378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-to-consider-pre-season-training-camp-this-summer-1-4426218","id":"1.4426218","articleHeadline": "Hearts to consider pre-season training camp this summer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492839002000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts are considering a pre-season training camp this summer but must first wait to see if they can qualify for Europe.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4426217.1492794442!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "."} ,"articleBody": "

Tentative plans have been made by management at Riccarton which hinge on whether Hearts will face Europa League qualifiers at the end of June.

To ensure they do, they must finish a minimum of fourth in the Ladbrokes Premiership and hope Celtic, Rangers or Aberdeen win the Scottish Cup.

That would permit European entry for the team finishing fourth as all three of the above are likely to have already qualified through their league position.

Should Hibs beat Aberdeen in today’s Scottish Cup semi-final and go onto retain the trophy, they would scupper the chance for fourth in the Premiership to play in Europe.

As things stand, Hearts sit fifth in the table – four points behind St Johnstone in fourth. The Europa League first qualifying round begins on June 29 and the Edinburgh club could go away for a training camp if they are not involved.

“We’re progressing some things just now but our plans vary depending on what our schedule will be,” said head coach Ian Cathro. “We’re a little bit away from being able to confirm those things. We will make sure there’s a good opportunity for us to get a lot of work in.

“Going away is a possibility but it really depends on a number of things which are yet to happen. It will be a bit further down the line before we can confirm what our plans are going to be.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4426217.1492794442!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4426217.1492794442!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": ".","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": ".","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4426217.1492794442!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/artist-creates-hearts-and-hibs-stadiums-out-of-lego-1-4425027","id":"1.4425027","articleHeadline": "Artist creates Hearts and Hibs stadiums... out of Lego","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492763208000 ,"articleLead": "

They are some of the most iconic stadiums in Scottish football that have served as a backdrop for the greatest moments in the history of our national game.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4425023.1492765110!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "LEGO model of Easter Road, built by @brickstand"} ,"articleBody": "

And now, grounds including Easter Road, Tynecastle and Hampden have been faithfully recreated in Lego form.

The unique models are the work of artist Chris Smith, who started his “Brickstand” project three years ago, aiming to build all 92 grounds from the English football league.

But after requests flooded in from fans all over the country to see their favourite ground replicated in the famous bricks, Chris expanded his range of creations to other stadia, including the homes of both Hearts and Hibs.

Altrincham-based artist Chris said the two Capital grounds were among the most unique builds he’s undertaken and says he’s been delighted by the reactions of fans who have praised the models online.

“Tynecastle is always a little more difficult to do because the Maroon bricks are sometimes a bit more difficult to get a hold of,” he explained.

“I’ll have to re-do it when they get the new stand up next season but luckily I have three sides of it already made up.

“The ticket office at Easter Road is one of those little bits of detail that I always try to get in to make it that little bit more unique – every ground has that small detail that makes it a bit different.

“It’s the same with all of the grounds I’ve built so far, they all look great and you’re trying to make them as realistic as possible, so the little details are really important.

“The response has generally been really positive, I think fans like to see something a little bit unique that represents their club.”

According to the artist, each creation takes around three days to build, using more than 1500 separate blocks for every stadium.

Since starting the project back in 2014, he’s sold commissioned models of stadiums including Wembley, Old Trafford and the Emirates for around £300 each and even appeared on Danish TV channel 6eren to talk about his designs.

And he said with more than half the 92 stadiums still to build, he has no intention of stopping any time soon.

“I’ve done around 40 of the original 92 so far, along with various other commissions, I think I’ve made around 50 in total,” he said. “The aim is to keep doing them and who knows, once I reach the 92 maybe I’ll keep going and just do as many as I can.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4425023.1492765110!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4425023.1492765110!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "LEGO model of Easter Road, built by @brickstand","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "LEGO model of Easter Road, built by @brickstand","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4425023.1492765110!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4425024.1492765111!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4425024.1492765111!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "LEGO models of Tynecastle built by @brickstand","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "LEGO models of Tynecastle built by @brickstand","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4425024.1492765111!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4425025.1492765112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4425025.1492765112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The ticket office is included in the Easter Road model. Picture; @brickstand","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The ticket office is included in the Easter Road model. Picture; @brickstand","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4425025.1492765112!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4425026.1492765113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4425026.1492765113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hampden created by @brickstand","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hampden created by @brickstand","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4425026.1492765113!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/prince-buaben-doubtful-for-hearts-first-post-split-match-1-4424827","id":"1.4424827","articleHeadline": "Prince Buaben doubtful for Hearts’ first post-split match","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492752611000 ,"articleLead": "

Prince Buaben is doubtful for Hearts’ first post-split match against Partick Thistle at Tynecastle next weekend due to a groin injury. He has been unable to train this week but management are hopeful he will resume training at some point next week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4424826.1492722158!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prince Buaben is nursing a groin injury"} ,"articleBody": "

Although the problem is not serious, it could prevent Buaben continuing his impressive form in the centre of Hearts’ back four. Head coach Ian Cathro may need to rejig his defence again after moving Buaben back from midfield and seeing only one goal conceded in the last three matches.

The Ghanaian suffered the injury in last Friday’s goalless draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and was forced off early in the second half.

“It’s the area of his groin around his adductor,” Cathro told the Evening News. “It’s not a major issue, probably a grade-one situation. We expect him to be training with us at some point next week. We just need to go gradually and manage it properly, but we don’t consider it a long-term issue.”

Cathro went on to praise Buaben’s recent contribution in defence, adding: “Prince gives different qualities defensively. He’s been clear-minded and given some calmness to the team. He’s helped us with possession and he’s defended well.

“We’re pleased with his contribution in the last couple of games and we’ll look forward to having him available for training with the group next week.”

With Callum Paterson, John Souttar, Aaron Hughes and Lennard Sowah all sidelined due to various injuries recently, Cathro is rightly reluctant to lose another member of his defence.

“We just hope everybody can get themselves back and available so we start to have options again in that area of the pitch,” he said. “We’ve had to make some adjustments and create some solutions in that area given what’s happened. I’m just looking forward to getting everybody available.

“It is a fact that we’ve had to adjust a couple of times in that centre-back area for a couple of different reasons. No-one foresaw the injury to John in the match against Celtic. That changed a lot. Immediately, we were putting a lot of stress and strain on Aaron and Tasos Avlonitis, who hadn’t played a lot in the months beforehand.

“It put a little bit of stress on an area of the team that we weren’t expecting to have, but these things happen. We need to manage it and go forward.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4424826.1492722158!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4424826.1492722158!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prince Buaben is nursing a groin injury","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prince Buaben is nursing a groin injury","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4424826.1492722158!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/ann-budge-has-built-strong-support-for-rebuild-of-tynecastle-1-4424612","id":"1.4424612","articleHeadline": "Ann Budge has built strong support for rebuild of Tynecastle","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492752602000 ,"articleLead": "

A cordial relationship with Scotland’s football governors should work in Hearts’ favour when they need it most next season.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4424611.1492700643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Construction of the �12m main stand at Tynecastle is gathering pace and is bang on target for the completion date"} ,"articleBody": "

Although her predecessor in Gorgie, Vladimir Romanov, often courted enmity dealing with Scottish league and Scottish FA officials, Ann Budge is wisely exercising good public relations up and down the corridors of Hampden.

The Tynecastle owner needs the goodwill of the Scottish Professional Football League and other Premiership clubs as stadium redevelopment gathers pace in Edinburgh. Chances are she will recieve everything she wants. 
Informal talks have already taken place with league officials and leading figures at top-flight clubs to ensure Hearts can begin the 2017/18 Premiership campaign with at least three, possibly four, away matches. Budge needs time to complete the £12million main stand rebuild, which is due to be ready on September 9, and the SPFL are happy to co-operate in the meantime.

A formal application to play matches away at the start of next season will be made in due course but it is clear that Budge’s polite, courteous manner has curried favour with both opposition clubs and league officials.

The structuring of this season’s post-split fixtures illustrate the will to aid Hearts’ cause. The Edinburgh club have their two home games against Partick Thistle and Aberdeen first, before trips to Rangers, St Johnstone and Celtic. That means Tynecastle won’t be needed after Sunday, May 7, allowing work to accelerate.

“We are working with Hearts to facilitate the redevelopment of Tynecastle next season,” an SPFL spokesperson confirmed to the Evening 
News.

Even a request to stage a “home” game or two at Murrayfield would be accommodated if the new main stand isn’t ready on time. SPFL rules state that any club can apply to play a home league match at a ground other than their registered home venue. The SPFL board would then study the request before deciding whether to approve or reject it. There is no timescale required, although Hearts would be expected to give plenty notice if a building delay forced them to consider a temporary switch to Murrayfield.

Firstly, they are eager to play every home fixture at Tynecastle. Hence the multiple conversations to gauge support for their fixture list to begin with a run of away matches – one of which would likely be an Edinburgh derby with newly-promoted Hibs at Easter Road.

Head coach Ian Cathro, pictured, is fully prepared that, after the Aberdeen match in just more than two weeks, he and his players won’t return to their spiritual home for at least four months.

“We can’t take any negative feeling about that,” he stressed. “There’s nothing negative about the fact we need to play away from home for a few weeks in a row at the start of the season. The reason is we’ll be returning to a stadium that’s going to be even stronger, louder, more beautiful and more powerful than before. We certainly don’t see it as a negative. Consecutive away games will always be a little bit more difficult than a run of home games. These are normal things and we just have to deal with it.”

The arrangement of Hearts’ fixtures would have no impact on Hibs. Authorities won’t allow both Capital clubs to play at home on the same day but the Easter Road club are not expected to be asked to move matches to accommodate their greatest rivals.

Budge released a lengthy statement via the Hearts website last week to update fans on the redevelopment project. Part of it detailed the contingency plans relating to fixtures and the possible change of venue.

“A number of options have been considered to cover the possibility of having UEFA Europa League games to host over the summer and also to cater for the Betfred Scottish League Cup games in which we may also be potentially involved,” she explained. “We have decided that any games played over the summer will be played at Tynecastle, in front of our three stands. We explored the possibility of playing these games at BT Murrayfield. However, despite a very genuine desire on the part of the SRU management team to assist us, their pitch maintenance plans rule this out until August at the earliest.

“We have, however, an agreement in principle to play any Ladbrokes Premiership home fixtures at BT Murrayfield, in the event that our building programme runs late.

“We have discussed both of these scenarios with the appropriate footballing authorities and we have the necessary agreements in place. I would also mention that my request to other Premiership clubs for their support of our proposed contingency plans was very generously given by every club in the division.

“So, to summarise, Tynecastle will continue to be our home ground throughout the whole redevelopment programme, unless events prevent us from opening on September 9, 2017. In that eventuality, we will play home games at BT Murrayfield until our new stand can be opened, with season ticketing being valid and alternative hospitality arrangements being put in place.”

Hearts’ last outing at Murrayfield was almost ten years ago when they lost 3-1 to Barcelona in a glamour friendly in front of 57,857 fans. Included in the Spanish side that balmy July afternoon were Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Ronaldinho, Yaya Toure and Thierry Henry. Hearts’ last competitive game at the home of Scottish rugby was back in September 2006 – a 2-0 defeat by Sparta Prague in a UEFA Cup first round, first leg tie.

The obvious hope is that none of Budge’s contingencies are necessary. Nonetheless, the Edinburgh businesswoman deserves credit for planning every eventuality – and for cultivating support at the highest level of Scottish football.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4424611.1492700643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4424611.1492700643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Construction of the �12m main stand at Tynecastle is gathering pace and is bang on target for the completion date","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Construction of the �12m main stand at Tynecastle is gathering pace and is bang on target for the completion date","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4424611.1492700643!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-owner-ann-budge-auctions-stay-on-her-yacht-to-fund-tynecastle-redevelopment-1-4423712","id":"1.4423712","articleHeadline": "Hearts owner Ann Budge auctions stay on her yacht to fund Tynecastle redevelopment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492673736000 ,"articleLead": "

One lucky Hearts fan could soon be sailing off into the sunset after the club unveiled the top auction lot for its annual awards bash – a holiday on owner Ann Budge’s yacht.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423711.1492627612!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

Jambos can now enter bids for the chance to enjoy a week on the luxury yacht, aptly named “The Queen of Hearts”.

With a prize value of around £20,000, the successful bidder and up to five others would get to board the 18m vessel at the Greek island of Corfu before taking a trip round the hidden gems of the Ionian sea.

Proceeds from the Player of the Year event, which takes place this Sunday at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), will go towards the Tynecastle Regeneration Fund.

Meanwhile, fans after a piece of footballing history can also bid for an original turnstile from Tynecastle’s Main Stand, first installed back in 1914.

Bids are also being accepted for an “ultimate dining experience”, which would see the lucky winner and nine guests treated to a night to remember at the Main Stand.

Starting the evening with drinks and canapes, guests will then be taken through to the Bobby Walker Suite where they will be joined for starters by two main squad players.

The main course will be served in the Directors’ Suite and hosted by Ann Budge, after which the group will adjourn to the John Robertson Lounge, where they will be joined by the legend himself for dessert, coffee, liqueurs and the odd tale while overlooking the pitch.

A club spokesman said: “There are many excellent prizes on offer at this Sunday’s Player of the Year Awards but undoubtedly the pick of the bunch is the chance to bid for a week on Ann’s yacht.

“This auction prize has very kindly been donated by Ann and all monies raised will go towards the Tynecastle Redevelopment Fund.

“It’s shaping up to be a great night at the EICC and there are still tickets available for what is always a magnificent event.”

It comes as the Tynecastle side pushes ahead with a long-awaited redevelopment to expand their stadium beyond a 20,000 capacity.

The £12 million project was given the green light last October and work is now under way to transform the Gorgie site.

Other lots up for grabs include an “Access All Areas” day at Tynecastle with Sky Sports presenter David Tanner and a limited edition framed and signed Main Stand home commemorative shirt.

Bids are also being taken for either a fan, or a child they nominate, to appear in an official start-of-the season photo with the first team squad.

There is also a range of raffle prizes to be won, including dinner and an overnight stay at the G&V hotel and four places in hospitality at the Champions Cup Final at Murrayfield on May 12.

More information about prizes and tickets can be found on the club’s website.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423711.1492627612!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423711.1492627612!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423711.1492627612!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423767.1492673716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423767.1492673716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423767.1492673716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423768.1492673717!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423768.1492673717!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423768.1492673717!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423769.1492673718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423769.1492673718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423769.1492673718!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/winger-billy-king-looking-to-earn-another-shot-at-hearts-1-4423584","id":"1.4423584","articleHeadline": "Winger Billy King looking to earn another shot at Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492666214000 ,"articleLead": "

Billy King today pledged to revive his Hearts career if given the opportunity by head coach Ian Cathro. The winger is due to return to Riccarton this summer after a season-long loan at Inverness but is unsure whether he will be in Cathro’s plans.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423583.1492617839!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Billy King has spent this season on loan at Inverness"} ,"articleBody": "

His contract runs until January having been extended last summer when the loan deal was agreed. King is therefore contractually obliged to report for pre-season training but, as yet, has no idea if he has a future with Hearts.

Cathro’s predecessor, Robbie Neilson, loaned him to Rangers last season and then Inverness for the whole of the current campaign. It seemed the 22-year-old’s Tynecastle days were numbered but King is hoping Cathro takes a different outlook.

“Obviously, it changes things. Different managers have different opinions. I’m not too sure what’s going to happen,” he told the Evening News. “I’ll be back in for pre-season as things stand but football is unpredictable. You don’t know what Ian Cathro is thinking.

“He probably hasn’t made any decisions or plans yet so I’ll probably need to wait until the end of the season. He texted me to make contact and to see how I was getting on. He said he’d be in touch later on, so everything is kind of up in the air at the moment. If they do want me back in to have a look at me in pre-season, I’m going to give it my best shot to try and put myself in the manager’s plans. I don’t have a clue how it’s going to go so I’m just concentrating on Inverness right now.”

King’s Hearts contract had been due to expire in June but the Edinburgh club extended it for six months.

“That move was designed to ensure they would have the chance to assess him again after his spell in the Highlands.

“It’s encouraging that I’ve got another six months and my contract finishes in January but, to be honest, the next five games are massive for Inverness because we’re fighting relegation. Beyond that, I’ll just see what happens,” added King.

“It’s been a tough season but Hearts extended my contract when I came up here so that’s pleasing. I’ve been at Hearts since I was nine. I want to do my best in the last few games here and hopefully, if I get another shot at Hearts, I can take it. It’s their decision.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423583.1492617839!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423583.1492617839!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Billy King has spent this season on loan at Inverness","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Billy King has spent this season on loan at Inverness","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423583.1492617839!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-billy-king-seeks-a-farewell-highland-fling-1-4423346","id":"1.4423346","articleHeadline": "Hearts’ Billy King seeks a farewell Highland fling","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492666206000 ,"articleLead": "

Billy King’s Highland adventure is drawing to a close and the future is uncertain. Having spent the season on loan at Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the winger is unsure whether he is wanted back at parent club Hearts, where his contract runs until January.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423345.1492609760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Billy King is playing for his future in the final games of the season"} ,"articleBody": "

What he does know is that he is a more rounded footballer having spent the last nine months fighting relegation in the Highland capital. The player endured the dreaded drop as a teenager at Tynecastle in 2014 and is facing the same prospect with Inverness, who lie five points adrift at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Still only 22, King feels more mature in both an emotional and footballing sense thanks to the loan move north. He has learned a different, more industrious side to the game as a winger in a struggling team. He has also had to fend for himself living away from family in Edinburgh, despite the presence of former Hearts colleague Brad McKay as a flatmate.

Ultimately, after 30 first-team appearances, the loan has been a success on a personal level. Yet King knows he will be playing for his future in the last five games of the season, eager to firstly help Inverness preserve their top-flight status and also convince Hearts he is worth another shot having been there since the age of nine.

“The main reason for coming here was to get games in the top flight in Scotland. I’ve played the majority of games for Inverness but it’s not been the best season for us,” said King, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “We’re bottom just now but there are five games left and 15 points to play for. We just need to keep going and see what happens. We need points on the board.

“It’s been difficult being bottom of the league, similar to when we were relegated with Hearts. It’s hard playing in a struggling team. You need different qualities. In that sense, I’ve learned that you need to do a lot more defensive work and mentally you need to be stronger – like when you go a goal down. I’ve learned a lot in terms of working off the ball because, in a struggling team, you’re not going to have as much possession.

“It’s been a beneficial move for me up here. Richie Foran, the manager, has given me games and played me a lot. He’s trusted me so I can only speak highly of him. I just hope we can turn this round in the next few games. There are five points between us and Dundee, who are 11th, and seven points between us and Motherwell and Hamilton [joint ninth]. The games we have now after the split are all winnable. We have been saying that for a while so we have to get off to a good start against Ross County next Friday night.”

An uncertain future is nothing new to King, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Rangers. He returned to Riccarton in pre-season before a season-long loan was agreed with Inverness in mid-July. He does feel unsettled but accepts it is unavoidable at the moment.

“That’s the harsh reality of football – your future is always uncertain unless you’re getting a three-year or four-year contract. Then you can be more relaxed about the situation. In my position, you never know what’s round the corner or what’s going to happen next. You just have to approach it with the right mindset.

“I look at it knowing I’ve got to do things to the best of my ability right now and not worry about the future. That won’t help you in the present. I’ll do my best just now. You’re 
always playing for your future. The modern game of football changes all the time, it never stands still.”

McKay has a bit more stability after joining Inverness on a two-year deal last summer. Even if the worst happens and the Highland club are relegated, he is expected to stay in place while his good friend King returns to Edinburgh. The pair shared a flat for the first half of the campaign, although six months was all they could manage together.

“I was living with Brad until January and then we were getting on top of each other so he moved out. The flat was a bit small, and I don’t know if my cooking helped matters!” laughed King.

He was nonetheless appreciative of a familiar face in the Caledonian Thistle dressing-room when McKay arrived at the end of August last year following his release from St Johnstone.

“It was good having him there because I was the only one from the Edinburgh-Glasgow area. The majority of the team was English. I knew Brad from my Hearts days and we’re good mates so we helped each other out,” added King.

“It was difficult living on your own. When Brad was there it was easier, there was stuff to do and it helped me. He moved out because he’s got more time left on his deal since he signed a two-year contract up there. He decided to move into his own place.”

King will move himself in a few weeks, but will it be a short-term flit back to Hearts or will he cement himself a future at Tynecastle?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4423345.1492609760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4423345.1492609760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Billy King is playing for his future in the final games of the season","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Billy King is playing for his future in the final games of the season","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4423345.1492609760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/contract-update-who-is-likely-to-stay-and-go-at-hearts-1-4422326","id":"1.4422326","articleHeadline": "Contract update: Who is likely to stay and go at Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492579803000 ,"articleLead": "

Recent results might suggest otherwise but a collection of Hearts players are actually playing for their futures right now.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4422325.1492527933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts head coach Ian Cathro, right, and director of football Craig Levein"} ,"articleBody": "

Five post-split Premiership fixtures will determine conclusively whether those out of contract this summer are to be kept on. Some of those decisions may, indeed, already have been made by the Tynecastle hierarchy.

Head coach Ian Cathro reinforced his squad with nine new recruits during the January transfer window, but more than half of them could leave when their short-term contracts expire. Five wins in 16 games since the Premiership’s winter shutdown haven’t helped their case or Cathro’s as he strives to win over supporters in Gorgie.

The Evening News revealed last month that the Slovenian international right-back Andraz Struna and the veteran Northern Ireland defender Aaron Hughes will be offered new deals. Both arrived in January and have done enough to warrant extensions in the eyes of management. Portuguese striker Esmael Goncalves and French midfielder Malaury Martin both signed three-and-a-half-year contracts and are therefore in situ for the long-term. The rest are fighting it out, allegedly.

Prize asset Callum Paterson has already made clear his intention to leave Hearts on freedom of contract once he fully recovers from cruciate and medial ligament damage. Sam Nicholson, like Paterson a Riccarton academy graduate, has similarly refused to sign a new deal. They could earn the club around £800,000 in combined compensation fees as they are under the age of 23 and were developed by Hearts. However, they would also need replacing.

Cathro and director of football Craig Levein aren’t expected to wheel in another nine new faces during the summer but it’s clear they will require to replenish the first-team squad. Players whose contracts are due to expire would be well advised to raise performance levels if they have any desire to stay in Edinburgh.

So what does the future hold for each of Hearts’ nine January recruits?

ALEXANDROS TZIOLIS

The Greek international midfielder doesn’t intend staying beyond the summer and, despite an authoritative start in maroon, this has shown in some of his displays. Capable of better and clearly has the ability to dominate a game as a current member of Michael Skibbe’s Greece squad. Verdict: Going.

AARON HUGHES

Missed the last eight games with a persistent calf problem and his influence has been conspicuous by its absence. Even at 37, he still possesses the quality to thrive at the top level in Scotland. Worth the one-year contract extension currently being discussed. Verdict: Staying.

TASOS AVLONITIS

Left out of the team for the last two matches – a 1-0 home win against Dundee and last Friday’s 0-0 draw at Kilmarnock. Another who started strongly but has since faded. There have been no formal talks to extend his contract and is seems he may play out the final few weeks of the season on the substitutes’ bench. Verdict: Going.

MOHA CHOULAY

Always destined to return to parent club Stoke City when his six-month loan finished. The Moroccan winger has shown ability in flashes and is clearly a threat in the final third. His lack of first-team experience is evident, which was the main reason Stoke wanted to loan him out. Verdict: Going.

DYLAN BIKEY

Refused a contract from Hibs to join city rivals Hearts on a six-month amateur deal after nine goals in nine games for League Two Stirling Albion. Stepping up three divisions was a challenge and the Frenchman was loaned back to Stirling last month. Any club signing him professionally this summer must pay more than £40,000 in training compensation to his former club in France, FC Dieppe. That places the chances of him staying at Tynecastle in the “remote” category. Verdict: Going.

ANDRAZ STRUNA

One of the more impressive January arrivals, the right-back reclaimed his place in the Slovenia squad last month after a nine-month absence. His Hearts performances have been more solid than brilliant and talks are taking place to extend his six-month contract. Verdict: Staying.

LENNARD SOWAH

Another who signed a six-month deal when Hearts plucked him from Hamilton Academical. A left-back with a nice left foot but positional sense and distribution are questionable. Is he any better than Faycal Rherras, the Moroccan he displaced? Verdict: Future unclear.

ESMAEL GONCALVES

The striker cost £175,000 from Anorthosis Famagusta and signed a three-and-a-half-year contract. Scored five goals in 12 games to date. Verdict: Staying.

MALAURY MARTIN

French midfielder also signed for three-and-a-half years. Flattered to deceive so far. Verdict: Staying.

HOW HEARTS’ SQUAD SHAPES UP

Out of contract this summer

Callum Paterson

Alexandros Tziolis

Aaron Hughes

Sam Nicholson

Tasos Avlonitis

Moha Choulay

Dylan Bikey

Andraz Struna

Lennard Sowah

Jordan McGhee

Robbie Buchanan

Nikolay Todorov

Under contract beyond this summer

Jack Hamilton

Viktor Noring

Faycal Rherras

Perry Kitchen

Jamie Walker

Prince Buaben

Arnaud Djoum

Billy King

John Souttar

Don Cowie

Juwon Oshaniwa

Conor Sammon

Krystian Nowak

Bjorn Johnsen

Angus Beith

Liam Smith

Dario Zanatta

Rory Currie

Esmael Goncalves

Malaury Martin

Gavin Reilly

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4422325.1492527933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4422325.1492527933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts head coach Ian Cathro, right, and director of football Craig Levein","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts head coach Ian Cathro, right, and director of football Craig Levein","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4422325.1492527933!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-defender-faycal-rherras-keen-to-leave-club-in-summer-1-4422709","id":"1.4422709","articleHeadline": "Hearts defender Faycal Rherras keen to leave club in summer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492547363000 ,"articleLead": "

Faycal Rherras plans to leave Hearts for free this summer if he can find a new club.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4422708.1492547346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Faycal Rherras hasnt played for Hearts since February"} ,"articleBody": "

The Moroccan full-back is out of favour at Tynecastle and is increasingly concerned about his international prospects as he struggles for game time.

He wants to move on if he can’t play regularly and Hearts are unlikely to stand in his way. He arrived for free last summer from the Belgian club Sint-Truiden and signed a three-year contract, but could now cut short his stay in Edinburgh having dropped out of the team.

Rherras has been left out of head coach Ian Cathro’s first-team squad for the last four games and hasn’t managed an appearance since February 25 against Partick Thistle.

He played regularly under Cathro’s predecessor, Robbie Neilson, before having his left-back spot taken by January signing Lennard Sowah. Rherras is now expected to move on at the end of the season, with a return to Belgium one possibility for the 24-year-old.

As a member of Morocco’s African Cup of Nations squad whose reputation remains solid back in Belgium, he is unlikely to be short of suitors on the continent. Rherras has made 21 starts in maroon so far, and 23 appearances in total in all competitions. He scored one goal – against Inverness in a 3-3 in the Highlands last October.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BARRY ANDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4422708.1492547346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4422708.1492547346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Faycal Rherras hasnt played for Hearts since February","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Faycal Rherras hasnt played for Hearts since February","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4422708.1492547346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/jack-hamilton-first-season-as-hearts-no-1-making-me-better-1-4421745","id":"1.4421745","articleHeadline": "Jack Hamilton: First season as Hearts No.1 making me better","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492493403000 ,"articleLead": "

Jack Hamilton is nearing the end of a character-building first season as Hearts’ No.1.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421744.1492449806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jack Hamilton has been an ever-present for Hearts this term"} ,"articleBody": "

By his own admission, there have been “ups and downs” along the way, but the fact that, with just five games to play, the Riccarton academy graduate remains his team’s only ever-present – playing every minute of their 42 competitive matches since last June – is an indicator of the high esteem in which he is regarded by Hearts’ management.

Although viewed by those who had worked closely with him as a Scotland No.1 of the future, it was seen by many supporters as a gamble when the Tynecastle side opted last summer to place their faith in a 22-year-old rookie who had only ten previous appearances for the club and a total of 18 starts from short loan stints with Stenhousemuir, East Fife, East Stirling and Forfar Athletic under his belt.

Hamilton believes being pitched in at the deep end has accelerated his development significantly.

“Personally, it’s been great,” he told the Evening News as he reflected on an intense ten months between the sticks.

“It’s been a challenge because I’m at a massive club. There have been highs and there have been lows but in every single game I’m learning new things and getting better as a goalkeeper. Things haven’t always been great, but to have a full season as Hearts’ No. 1 is going to stand me in good stead, especially at my age. At the start of the season, I thought I was going to be out on loan but the manager [Robbie Neilson] gave me a chance and I feel like I’ve done alright. It’s been massive for me.” In a division where the majority of the goalkeepers used this season are 29 or older, Hamilton is comfortably the youngest outright No.1. Frankie Woodman, the 20-year-old who has started Kilmarnock’s last 13 games since arriving on loan from Newcastle, Remi Matthews, the 23-year-old on loan at Hamilton Accies from Norwich City, and St Johnstone’s Zander Clark, who turns 25 in two months, are the only other keepers in their early 20s to have featured semi-regularly in the Premiership this season. In short, Hamilton is breaking the mould in terms of commanding the gloves for a club of Hearts’ stature.

As the last line of defence during what has been a turbulent season for the entire team, Hamilton has had to contend with intense scrutiny. He is aware that some supporters would have preferred to see their team rely on a more experienced goalkeeper, but is comfortable with the level of pressure on his shoulders as he strives to tighten up all aspects of his play.

“It’s a massive club so it means a lot to be No.1,” he said. “You’re always going to get a bit anxiety from the crowd because it’s such a big club and there’s so much expectation to make sure everything’s done well, but that’s why I play football, that’s why I love it. There’s so much expectation here, but I put the same pressure on myself as well because I want to improve and be the Hearts No.1 for a long time. The expectation is a good thing. There are always some difficult situations but you’ve just got to learn from them and learn how to manage them. It’s not been bad for me so far. I’m just desperate to be playing in the team every single week.”

Hamilton, who turned 23 last month, has struck up a strong rapport with goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher since he arrived at the club from Partick Thistle last season. “Gall has been excellent with me in terms of passing on his experience,” he explained. “We go over the video together after every single game and look at bits. There’s always something that needs improved. There’s always something that you maybe don’t notice at the time but, once you see it back on the video, it becomes clearer. You then try and work on it in training and do it in games. Gall’s been top man for me – he’s been excellent.”

While Hamilton has endured some shaky moments in recent months – most notably when allowing Andrew Shinnie’s strike to elude him in the 3-1 Scottish Cup defeat by Hibs – he also boasts an impressive array of high-quality saves in his maiden campaign as a first-choice goalkeeper in senior football. “The one at Motherwell [in September] was alright, St Johnstone two weeks ago, up at Ross County I had a couple, Partick Thistle at home,” he said when asked to pick out his best saves. “There have been a good few. I’ve had loads of positives to build from but I also need to look at the negatives to try and improve on them and get myself better.

“You could say shot-stopping’s my main quality and I maybe have to work a bit on my kicking. It’s not like I can’t kick a ball, though – I’ve started plenty counter-attacks with my kicks. I have good bits and bad bits. There are always bits in games where you think ‘I should have done better there’, but I don’t think I’ve had many terrible moments. I’m always looking to improve every part of my game but, as a goalkeeper, my main goal is to stop the ball going in the net.”

Hearts’ form has dipped in recent months amid a period of major transition. Hamilton insists the turnover of players which has resulted in him playing behind an entirely new defence in the second half of the season is not a major factor for him, although he does miss the presence of right-back Callum Paterson, who has been injured for the past four months.

“I don’t think playing behind a new defence is a massive issue for me,” said the goalkeeper. “If the ball’s going to come into the box, it doesn’t really matter who’s there. There are certain little things that have changed, like Callum was really good for me because when you’re kicking, you know you can put it into his area and he’ll win it. But, generally, as a goalie, you just try and concentrate on yourself.”

In addition to constant pep talks from Gallacher, competition from his deputy, Viktor Noring, has helped drive Hamilton. “Viktor’s been really good. We get on well,” said Hamilton. “He trains really hard and he’s definitely pushing me. He doesn’t want to be sitting on the bench – he’s desperate to be playing, which is good for me as well because the standard of training has to be good. He’s a really good goalie and he’s helped me with his experience.”

Hamilton, who last month signed a new contract with Hearts until 2020, is heartened by his ongoing involvement in the Scotland set-up. Veteran Craig Gordon, Allan McGregor and David Marshall remain Gordon Strachan’s first three choices, but Hamilton, the former Scotland Under-21 goalkeeper, is clearly deemed the front-runner of the emerging generation. He was thrilled to earn a late call-up for last month’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia after Marshall pulled out.

“That was fantastic,” he said of his recent inclusion. “Obviously, I’m proud and desperate to be in the Scotland squad, but the main thing is what I do in the Hearts team. If I’m not doing it here, I’ll not be considered for Scotland. I just need to keep getting better here and make sure I stay in the team.”

Hamilton has kept 12 clean sheets this season. After Hearts’ poor form in recent months, the goalkeeper is pleased that they will start their post-split fixtures on Saturday week on the back of consecutive shut-outs against Dundee and Kilmarnock. “You’re always happy with a clean sheet,” said Hamilton. “Goalies don’t want the ball going in the back of the net so to get back-to-back clean sheets is always going to be good for the confidence. It’s good for the defenders as well. We just need to build on it and try and get some more.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421744.1492449806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421744.1492449806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jack Hamilton has been an ever-present for Hearts this term","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jack Hamilton has been an ever-present for Hearts this term","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421744.1492449806!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/lewis-moore-scores-hat-trick-in-hearts-under-20s-win-1-4421773","id":"1.4421773","articleHeadline": "Lewis Moore scores hat-trick in Hearts Under-20s win","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492457263000 ,"articleLead": "

Lewis Moore grabbed a second-half hat-trick as Hearts beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-1 in the Development League at Riccarton.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421772.1492457247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lewis Moore bagged a treble at Riccarton"} ,"articleBody": "

The young Jambos controlled the first period but it took until eight minutes after half-time before they made the breakthrough.

A high ball into the Inverness box found Moore and the winger shot home from close range.

With 20 minutes remaining, Hearts made it two, substitute Kyle Smith heading Callumn Morrison’s cross back into the box for Moore to nip in and slot under Hoban.

Six minutes later, Hearts sealed the victory when Cameron Gilchrist bundled over Euan Henderson inside the box. Moore stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and complete his hat-trick.

Inverness scored a consolation goal with eight minutes remaining through Mitchell Foy.

Hearts: Mason, Brandon, Hamilton, Jones, Reid, Morrison, Paton, Beith, Moore, Currie, Roy. Subs: Petkov, Irving, K.Smith, Henderson, Baxter, Akers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421772.1492457247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421772.1492457247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lewis Moore bagged a treble at Riccarton","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lewis Moore bagged a treble at Riccarton","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421772.1492457247!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/alex-tziolis-hailed-for-giving-hearts-extra-solidity-1-4421055","id":"1.4421055","articleHeadline": "Alex Tziolis hailed for giving Hearts extra solidity","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492407052000 ,"articleLead": "

Ian Cathro has praised midfielder Alex Tziolis’s role in giving Hearts extra solidity in recent matches.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421054.1492357494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Tziolis"} ,"articleBody": "

After a difficult period in which he was criticised in some quarters for a perceived lackadaisical approach, the Greek internationalist appears to have raised his intensity levels in the last three matches against St Johnstone, Dundee and Kilmarnock.

Tziolis, who has been dropping back to help the defence at various points in those fixtures, has been one of Hearts’ most impressive players as they have recorded back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in Cathro’s reign as head coach. The 32-year-old even played as an out-and-out centre-back for a period in Friday’s 0-0 draw at Kilmarnock and was an assured presence.

Cathro is heartened by the former Panathinaikos, Monaco and PAOK player’s growing influence as he bids to rediscover the level of form that helped him win over the Hearts supporters in his first couple of appearances for the club in February.

“Alex has not got too much history of playing centre-back, especially not in a two,” said the head coach. “But as a defensive midfielder, he’s comfortable in that area of the pitch and is used to defending a lot of situations when he has to. He’s given us presence and has helped lead and direct in defensive situations. He can be an important player for us.”

Cathro was also pleased by the contribution of Moha Choulay on Friday. The 21-year-old Moroccan winger has been a peripheral figure since arriving on loan from Stoke City in January. However, he gave Hearts some much-needed attacking spark when he came on for the last 20 minutes at Rugby Park.

“Moha’s a young player so he’s at a stage of his career where he has ups and downs,” said Cathro. “He’s not been in British football for a long time so he’s adapting to a lot of things. He has good qualities and he gave us some of those qualities on Friday. He gave us some speed on the side and gave us the one-v-one play that we needed. We needed to push our attacks a little bit quicker, so his impact was a positive.”

Meanwhile, Cathro is hopeful that defenders Aaron Hughes and Lennard Sowah will both be fit to return for Hearts in their first post-split fixture at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday week. “Aaron will hopefully be back training in a week’s time, so we’re hoping he can be available for Partick,” said the head coach. “Lennard still has some small complaints but he should be fine.”

Prince Buaben, who was forced off with a tight groin on Friday, was due to be assessed this morning.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421054.1492357494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421054.1492357494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Tziolis","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Tziolis","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421054.1492357494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/gary-mackay-we-need-flair-at-hearts-and-to-hear-from-craig-levein-1-4421059","id":"1.4421059","articleHeadline": "Gary Mackay: We need flair at Hearts – and to hear from Craig Levein","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492407044000 ,"articleLead": "

I wasn’t surprised the statement from Ann Budge last Wednesday was so in-depth about all matters at Hearts and I wasn’t surprised to see the owner outline her support for the footballing department.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421058.1492357922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts director of football Craig Levein watches on during Friday nights match at Kilmarnock. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

However, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that it would have held more clout if the director of football had addressed the footballing issues. Craig Levein was put in charge of the football department, and at a time when there is clearly some concern about the way our season has panned out, I think a lot of supporters would have appreciated some form of explanation from him on certain matters.

A lot of boxes have been ticked with regard to the strategy put in place at the club three years ago, but there is no getting away from the fact one or two boxes haven’t been ticked. For me, supporters who are ploughing money into the club are entitled to hear the thoughts of the man overseeing the football department.

Ann implied that we were forced into our January overhaul of the squad, and I know there were a couple of mitigating factors that prompted us to utilise the last transfer window so heavily, but we also have to remember that it was our choice to allow players to leave. I genuinely can’t think of one club in Britain who would have seen fit to change the personnel to the level we did in January.

In football, you never get everything right, but I do concern myself a little bit that it seems like we’re trying to reinvent the wheel of professional football in terms of how we go about our business. With the way we have been trying to play recently, it just feel like we try to over-complicate things. I acknowledge that football has become a lot more strategic now, but I can’t help but feel it’s still a more simple and straightforward game than we are making it look.

For me, the priority going forward has to be to establish an identity associated with a bit of flair. That is sadly missing at the moment unless Jamie Walker is on his best form. There are several good players at Hearts just now, but a lot of them are foreign players who haven’t been at the club long and are still trying to find their feet. That was evident again to an extent at Rugby Park on Friday when we just couldn’t quite click into gear.

If your cup’s half empty, you focus on the fact it was a poor game to watch and we didn’t create much as an attacking force. If your cup’s half full, you’re pleased we came away with a point and a clean sheet from a ground where we’ve not had a particularly good record in recent times. Either way, it certainly wasn’t a game for the purists, but in the end it turned out to be a point gained as both St Johnstone, directly above us, and Partick Thistle, beneath us, lost.

For all that it was pretty disappointing that we weren’t able to go to Kilmarnock and win, if we were to beat Partick at home in our first game after the split, then we would have taken seven points from a possible nine. That would make things look a lot rosier, and would give us a fighting chance of attaining fourth place.

We were always going to have three away fixtures, so I’m not overly fazed by our fixture list. The only thing I would have preferred is if we had St Johnstone before the Rangers game as that would have given us a better chance of keeping the pressure on them. Even though we’re four points behind them, I still feel we’ve got a decent chance of getting fourth. But the key to that is making sure we take an absolute minimum of four points from our next two home games against Partick and Aberdeen. If we could do that, I’d like to think it would keep us in contention ahead of our trip to McDiarmid Park. We need to make sure we hang in there long enough to make our penultimate games against St Johnstone a shootout for Europe.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4421058.1492357922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4421058.1492357922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts director of football Craig Levein watches on during Friday nights match at Kilmarnock. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts director of football Craig Levein watches on during Friday nights match at Kilmarnock. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4421058.1492357922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/why-critics-are-ignoring-the-important-problems-at-hearts-1-4420760","id":"1.4420760","articleHeadline": "Why critics are ignoring the important problems at Hearts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1492334950000 ,"articleLead": "

As much talk and speculation surrounds the dynamic between Ian Cathro and Craig Levein, more important matters are ignored, writes Joel Sked.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420757.1492281422!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Cathro's tactical confusion has gone under the radar. Pic: SNS/"} ,"articleBody": "

Once again, a match involving Heart of Midlothian resulted in discussion, or noise, surrounding the clearly defined roles of director of football Craig Levein, head coach Ian Cathro and the club’s technical team. Chris Sutton was one of many calling for Levein to clarify his position and the dynamic with Cathro. This was despite Cathro making the dynamic clear, again, in an interview with BT.

Post-match, after the club’s soporific goalless draw at Rugby Park, focus shifted onto the matter of notes, passed from coaching staff to players. These notes were treated as some sort of Cold War espionage.

While time and energy has, was and will be spent on these inane topics, Cathro’s bamboozling tactics and the individual performances of the players will go under the radar, ignored. For Hearts fans shouldn’t be worrying about notes or structure, they should be concerned about direction and identity.

Most, understandably, would like to hear from Levein, about where it went wrong but more importantly what is being done to correct the mistakes and take the club forward. But everyone wants to see signs on the pitch, even just a clue or hint. But it only grows murkier each passing game.

Now, let’s get a major caveat out the way, this team is not the future. The fans clearly don’t want it to be the present, they want it in the past. As soon as possible. Ann Budge, in her state of the union speech, was right to point out the loss of key players to both transfers and injuries, especially in defence.

Still, in the main, there is a squad of competent individuals to deliver more than what’s been delivered just now. Cathro’s remit is to shape them into a team, into a coherent structure. That has not been evident.

Against Celtic, Hearts put in arguably their best performance under the 30-year-old. For 25 minutes. On that day there were signs of what Cathro enthused on his arrival: energy, risk, attacking endeavour. But even then it could be seen as haphazard. Don Cowie, with the lungs of an Ethiopian steeplechase runner, was pressing the opposition but increasingly there wasn’t a support mechanism in place, no second wave of pressure. Team-mates were tentative. This wasn’t an isolated case.

Neither Perry Kitchen or Alexandros Tziolis were protecting the defence. A jenga defence. Make one wrong movement and it all comes crashing down. The centre-backs were left in duels with Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts. There was only one winner.

Spooked, Cathro has looked to solidify and stop the leaks. Build the jenga blocks back up slowly and reinforce it with a hefty Greek midfielder. Against St Johnstone, Hearts set up as if they were travelling to a rampant Celtic or Rangers in the late 90s/early 00s. Tziolis took a very deep position, libero almost, between the centre-backs.

With two from either Tasos Avlonitis, Prince Buaben and Krystian Nowak, Tziolis has offered a presence and aerial ability to combat the likes of Steve MacLean, Marcus Haber and an ageing Kris Boyd. This, he has done effectively. But with the ball he has been more Franz Ferdinand than Franz Beckenbauer. Clearly playing at a level well below his standing, at times he appears to be trying to show just that with his nonchalance on the ball. He is not the cause of the poor performances but his pondering is indicative of it.

His positioning should free both full-backs to attack high and wide, opening up the game while providing a switch of play, something which is worked on at most levels throughout the club’s structure. However, take out Callum Paterson and the club’s collection of full-backs is underwhelming. Again, indicative of the malaise seen on the pitch.

Going from Paterson to the willing but limited Liam Smith is like going from eating an authentic pizza with views across the Bay of Naples, to putting a frozen Goodfellas in the oven as you prepare to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall on ITV2+1.

With Juwon Oshaniwa and Faycal Rherras out of favour, plus Lennard Sowah injured, Andraz Struna has been moved to the left to accommodate Smith. At Rugby Park both full-backs offered little as an attacking outlet. Smith is a naturally reserved and hard-working right-back, while Struna constantly cut-back or cut onto his favoured right foot preventing any momentum building. It would have made sense to swap the pair.

As at Pittodrie, as at McDairmid Park, these factors affected the team further forward. While Kitchen sat as a holding midfielder, the trio of Jamie Walker, Arnaud Djoum and Cowie were tasked with supporting Esmael Goncalves. Yet, they weren’t set out in a particular structure, rather they had freedom to move between the lines, laterally and vertically. But there is a fine line between fluidity and disorganisation. It fell very much into the latter category.

This creative licence should see the trio, especially Djoum and Walker, thrive. But they look straight-jacketed by the ‘system’. Unsure where and when to move. Walker’s form has dipped dramatically, while Djoum has still to find his this season, only appearing intermittently.

The slow play from the back means players receive the ball with their back to goal and under the close attention of the opposition. So the ball often goes back into the vicinity it came from. When they are able to turn they are unable to penetrate because defences have regained their shape.

This all leads to aimless passes and launches forward towards Goncalves whose as enticed by the prospect of having to chase and harry as most are of going into exploratory surgery. The ball is turned over and it all starts again.

Cathro has tried to change and experiment, including a front three at St Johnstone which included Walker, Goncalves and Bjorn Johnsen. Walker, bizarrely, was the central attacker. Goncalves prefers to play from the left, as does Walker. Johnsen? A shadow of the player who at one time was a handful for defences.

Naturally, the turnover of players and injuries hampers the building of on-field relationships, creating chemistry. And, as was clear last night, there was little Cathro can do in terms of professional football players being incapable of controlling simple passes or making simple passes. But what he can do is put the team out with a clear idea, a robust structure with a general ambition to score goals.

Ask fans what the team’s structure and plan is before, during and after games and you’d be met with a look of befuddlement.

Hearts are a club which is modernising how they approach the game, holistic methods and such. But they are going against the grain in one aspect. They trust their coach and will give him time and space to breath and succeed. For that they should admired.

Instead it is this aspect which is being criticised, rather than the one which is concerning fans the most. Where is the team going? And where is its on-field identity? Answers have been severely missing.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JOEL SKED"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420757.1492281422!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420757.1492281422!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Cathro's tactical confusion has gone under the radar. Pic: SNS/","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Cathro's tactical confusion has gone under the radar. Pic: SNS/","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420757.1492281422!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420758.1492281424!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420758.1492281424!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "14/04/17 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP KILMARNOCK V HEARTS RUGBY PARK - KILMARNOCK Hearts Director of Football Craig Levein","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "14/04/17 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP KILMARNOCK V HEARTS RUGBY PARK - KILMARNOCK Hearts Director of Football Craig Levein","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420758.1492281424!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4420759.1492281428!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4420759.1492281428!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "14/04/17 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP KILMARNOCK V HEARTS RUGBY PARK - KILMARNOCK Hearts head coach Ian Cathro","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "14/04/17 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP KILMARNOCK V HEARTS RUGBY PARK - KILMARNOCK Hearts head coach Ian Cathro","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4420759.1492281428!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}