HEARTS winger Arvydas Novikovas will be handed a key role in Lithuania’s crucial World Cup qualifier in Bosnia- Herzegovina tonight after being labelled a “completely different” player this season by national coach Csaba Laszlo.
The 21-year-old is playing regularly at club level and impressed throughout the 90 minutes in Lithuania’s 2-0 Group G victory over Liechtenstein on Friday. He will play from the start again as Laszlo looks to cement a solid start to Lithuania’s campaign which sees them just three points behind the Bosnians at the top of the section.
“Novikovas is playing very well. I am very satisfied with his performance as well as Marius Zaliukas,” said Laszlo, a former Hearts manager. “Novikovas played the full game against Liechtenstein and he will be playing against Bosnia, probably also for the full game.
“It is important to show his talent at international level. I hope he can have a big impact tonight. He played two different positions against Leichtenstein. In the first half he was behind the striker and in the second half I put him out on the wing. He did well in both positions.
“I told Novikovas before that, if he plays regularly with his club, he would have the possibility to play for Lithuania. If he wasn’t playing for Hearts, I told him he cannot dream about being an international player. I said, ‘you must change your attitude and do what I tell you’ and now he has given me the answer on the pitch.
“If you give respect, you earn respect back. I can say very openly that I am very satisfied with the attitude of Novikovas. He is completely different and Zaliukas is the same. They are different in a positive way.”