Hearts have told striker Juanma Delgado to improve his discipline and cut out needless bookings for dissent. Coaching staff want the Spaniard to stop haranguing referees after nine yellow cards in 18 games this season.
He misses this weekend’s Ladbrokes Premiership match against Dundee through suspension having been booked six times in the league. Four of those cautions were for dissent, with the player guilty of complaining too much about decisions.
Head coach Robbie Neilson has discussed the matter with Juanma and told him to keep his frustrations in check. The 25-year-old is in his first season in Scotland having joined Hearts from the Greek club Kalloni in July and has scored eight goals in all competitions.
Whilst happy with his scoring prowess, Neilson admits the forward must stop incurring the wrath of referees. “I’ve spoken to him about it a couple of times. He’s trying to get used to a different culture and the different nature of the game here,” Neilson told the Evening News.
“In Spain and Greece, if there’s any contact at all and you go down, it’s a foul. Juanma is realising that, in Scotland, it takes a bit more to get a foul. It’s a more physical game. I think he’s been getting frustrated by that, but he’ll learn.
“I said before that we won’t see the best of Juanma until March/April time, and then he’ll hopefully be better again next season. He’s done really well so far but I think there’s still a lot more to come once he gets used to the style of play and the way the game is played here.
“He will get better. When he misses this game on Saturday, it’ll make him realise it is something he needs to cut out. He’s punished himself by getting suspended and missing a game he wants to play in. We speak to him and he’s getting better. We don’t see it being a problem in the long term.”
Juanma’s one-match ban could see Gavin Reilly promoted from the substitutes’ bench this weekend. The former Queen of the South forward last played from the start against Aberdeen two months ago, but he is in contention to partner Osman Sow in attack against Dundee.