HEARTS will grant much-needed game time to several first-team squad members when they face Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday, with midfielder Rudi Skacel and striker Gordon Smith amongst those likely to feature at White Hart Lane.
The Czech is expected to start the second leg of the Europa League play-off, whilst manager Paulo Sergio has yet to see Smith play competitively since replacing Jim Jefferies. As revealed in yesterday’s Evening News, midfielder Mehdi Taouil is also in contention after a groin injury.
“We have players who, like Rudi, have not played much since the start of the season. They aren’t playing a lot so it’s an idea that I have in my head to play them. I think it would be profitable to give them some rhythm,” said Sergio, who admitted he is still searching for his best attacking combination.
John Sutton, Ryan Stevenson and Stephen Elliott have all been employed in striking roles and Sergio pointed to their different qualities as he challenged them to justify his faith.
“I believe in them all,” he said. “They are different from each other and we don’t have two strikers who are the same.
“Sutton is a big guy without too much mobility but we have mobility in Elliott and Ryan. We have a kid that I think is going to have a future in Gordon Smith. We are trying all of them. If they work well, they will all have their chance to play in the team.
“I have to use them all and do it this way because, as I’ve said, I’m doing a pre-season in competition. There are some risks but I don’t know another way to do this. We have to make changes to go in front and to go for the results. I want good football and I have to take some risks, but we also have to win points. Doing this and winning points is not an easy job but that’s what we must do at this moment.”
Asked if he is hopeful of adding a new recruit to his squad before the summer transfer window closes next week, Sergio replied: “I’m talking with our board and I hope they can give me a good answer about the things I talked about.”