Hearts are working to improve defensive organisation during the international break, with head coach Ian Cathro determined to take a more ruthless approach at the back.
Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Aberdeen exposed defensive frailties again, particularly at Shay Logan’s header for the first goal. Cathro wants his back line to be more clinical in and around their own penalty area.
The Edinburgh club have slipped to fifth in the league and one of the areas needing attention this week is defence, as Cathro explained.
“One of the most important things is how clinical we are with our defensive work,” he told the Evening News today. “When we’re in and around our box and we have to clear the ball, we clear. We have to be close to each other for second balls. We have made progress in those situations but there are a lot of competitive games against a rival and there is tension in these games. Sometimes it’s who cracks first.
“It’s been really clear in protecting ourselves from mistakes that you keep yourself in a strong position. Ultimately, that’s probably been the main thing which resulted in Saturday’s outcome.”
Cathro and his coaching staff are working with individuals and with the defence as a unit this week to ensure they become a stronger barrier to opponents.
“There are individual and collective things, being ruthless in our defending, how we clear the ball and deal with second balls in and around our box. We have to be in the right positions to defend crosses,” he added.
“These are situations we’re going to face in this league and we need to make sure we’re focused on continuing to improve and deal with those things clinically.”