Hearts’ Esmael Goncalves ‘will return stronger after red card’

Referee Nick Walsh dismisses Hearts striker Esmael Goncalves during the Jambos 2-0 defeat away at Partick Thistle. Pic: SNS
Referee Nick Walsh dismisses Hearts striker Esmael Goncalves during the Jambos 2-0 defeat away at Partick Thistle. Pic: SNS
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Hearts striker Esmael Goncalves has learned lessons from his red card and will return from suspension this weekend “in a better place”, according to head coach Ian Cathro.

The Portuguese served a one-game ban against Ross County but is expected to be thrown back into the starting line-up when Hamilton visit Tynecastle on Saturday.

He was dismissed after a second yellow card for a late tackle against Partick Thistle two weeks ago as frustration took hold during Hearts’ 2-0 defeat at Firhill.

Cathro has spoken about the incident privately with the player, who was disciplined internally. The head coach explained today that Goncalves is ready to atone for his mistake on the pitch.

“He has reflected on what led to him missing the Ross County game. He understands the situation and he’ll be in a better place. I don’t think we’ll see those errors again,” Cathro said.

“He maybe feels he’d been provoked a little bit and that there were a lot of challenges with things left in, but that’s something for him to deal with. He has to manage his frustrations better.

“Speaking about it doesn’t do too much. It’s up to Esmael to show he’s ready to manage those situations better on the pitch. I’ve got every confidence that he will.

“He’s desperate to give the Hearts fans moments to shout about. Sometimes, when the game is going a different way, or the ball isn’t coming, or a chance is missed, of course there is frustration.

“We’ve all got to deal with that better; to stay strong through the game, keep the momentum with us and keep fighting. We don’t want to disappear for a few minutes because something hasn’t happened for us.”

Cathro revealed that winger Jamie Walker and centre-back Aaron Hughes remain touch-and-go for Saturday. Walker suffered a head knock at Firhill, whilst Hughes has missed the last two matches with a tight calf.

“Provided everything is okay and goes to plan, they could maybe be available. There’s still a bit to go,” admitted Cathro, who expects a stronger Hearts performance this week after time to reflect on three straight defeats.

“Generally, you want to play every week because you’ve got the desperation of fixing things. If we reflect better on the last two weeks, it maybe was a more positive thing that we didn’t play last weekend to give ourselves more time to train. We haven’t been able to do too much of that. It also gives guys with knocks more time to recover. We’ll be in a stronger position come Saturday.”

Hamilton head to Edinburgh sitting second bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership and desperate for points in the fight against relegation. They haven’t won in Gorgie since 1977 and they suffered a 6-0 reverse against Rangers in the Scottish Cup last week.

“I don’t think that scoreline was completely in line with the game,” said Cathro. “It’s a difficult one for them but I don’t think it was necessarily a true reflection of where they are.

“All we have to do is focus on us. Everything has become more important. Of course we will respect the opponent but, when you’re in the more difficult and tough moments, we have to focus harder on ourselves.

“It could lead to a tense, nervy start. You could understand both teams have that sort of tension at the beginning. We’ve got to focus on being able to play quickly with good energy, confidence and positivity.

“We have 90 minutes to win the game, we don’t want to lose out on five or ten minutes at the start because of a nervy, broken opening.”