Gary Mackay: Crucial for Hearts to manage squad

Osman Sow
Osman Sow
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Any team in Scotland would miss their captain and main striker, but Hearts were without them at the weekend and still managed to win.

I’m sure Rangers wouldn’t be happy if they didn’t have Lee McCulloch and Kenny Miller available. You would probably equate Danny Wilson and Osman Sow with these two, they are just as important to Hearts.

The lack of a flowing, fluid performance is of no great significance to me. It’s about three points in the bag and keeping Hearts at the summit of the league, which is where they’ve been since day one. It’s pleasing that they’re managing to stay there despite some big players being absent.

I do have a concern, and Robbie Neilson alluded to it in this newspaper last week, about leaving one or two out when they get close to suspension. Morgaro Gomis and Prince Buaben are hugely influential and, if one goes out of the team, they would be very difficult to replace. It wouldn’t be easy to deal with but that time may come eventually.

Both Gomis and Buaben were excellent again against Raith, and there’s no doubt we will be without them at some point. This is where the patience aspect has to come in, when you are missing key players. Obviously, two of our main guys were missing on Saturday and we fared okay.

Sow is going to be a good partner for any player and it will be interesting to see who he is paired with as the season goes on. Anyone who plays with him is going to improve because you have a huge weight taken off you. It’s more difficult for smaller strikers to play together.

Soufian El Hassnaoui maybe hasn’t set the heather on fire yet but he’s come into a totally different environment and he hasn’t had a full pre-season, don’t forget. We judge all the new guys by the standards set by the likes of Gomis, Buaben and Sow and we think everybody should hit the ground running like that. It doesn’t always work that way. Maybe El Hassnaoui will come good towards the end of the season when he’s more accustomed to the Scottish style of play.

Now we go to Falkirk looking to win again. The Rangers game is obviously going to be a significant one so we would want to go into that on the back of maximum points.