Hearts face injury woes for European push

Paulo Sergio
Paulo Sergio
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HEARTS’ injury woes worsened today when it emerged midfielder Adrian Mrowiec could miss the club’s push for Europe due to a knee problem which is threatening to end his season.

The Pole has not played since the 2-2 Scottish Cup quarter-final draw with St Mirren on March 10 after sustaining the knee injury. He is now facing an uphill battle to recover in time to help Hearts push for the Europa League qualifying rounds.

Adrian Mrowiec

Adrian Mrowiec

The problem comes at the worst possible juncture for manager Paulo Sergio, whose injury concerns have multiplied in recent weeks. Saturday’s defeat at McDiarmid Park was notable for the absence of recent signing Craig Beattie, who failed a pre-match fitness test due to a heel injury.

Added to that, goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald was withdrawn at half-time in Perth with a hip complaint, whilst Ian Black’s hernia problem rendered him an unused substitute. Hearts also have Mehdi Taouil (back), Stephen Elliott (hip) and David Templeton (groin) currently sidelined.

Sergio was forced to reshuffle his side against St Johnstone and handed Jason Holt his first start, which was repaid when the 19-year-old scored an impressive first goal in the 2-1 defeat. Reserve goalkeeper Mark Ridgers later debuted in place of MacDonald.

“We need to recover some players with different problems,” explained Sergio. “Some have hip problems, cartilage, hernia. We have to give the younger ones a chance and show we believe they can be in the first team in the future. They all played well.”

Sergio was angry at Hearts’ defending for both St Johnstone goals, in particular the second when Marius Zaliukas carelessly conceded a penalty by tripping Francisco Sandaza.

“We made a huge mistake with another penalty but before that there was a foul because Danny Grainger tried to touch the ball with his head and he (Sandaza) puts his foot in his face. It’s unbelievable there was no foul at that moment.

“I think we at least deserved to leave with a point. I believe the first St Johnstone goal is preceded by an offside. I believe their second goal is preceded by a foot in the face of Grainger. These are mistakes but we had our mistakes too.

“The way we conceded these goals, it’s incredible. We had chances to at least take a point but we had no effect on that issue. I’m happy with the young guys who got a chance to play, but at the end of the day it’s disappointing because we did not get a point.

“We were controlling the game, playing in their midfield and doing everything to win the game and then we lose the game.”