HEARTS boss Gary Locke revealed today his side could be facing yet another blow after Ryan Stevenson limped out of the cup defeat by Celtic.
The Tynecastle side crashed out of the William Hill Scottish Cup in dismal fashion yesterday, losing 7-0 to Celtic in the fourth round, and Locke is hoping that his misery is not compounded by news of another injury for Stevenson.
The 29-year-old, one of the club’s most experienced players, was replaced by Dale Carrick with just over 20 minutes of the defeat remaining and went straight up the tunnel, accompanied by club medical staff.
The Hearts forward, who was ruled out for two months earlier in the campaign after tearing his medial ligament, tweaked his hamstring during the game and Locke will find out the extent of the problem later today.
Locke, who looked stunned by the margin of yesterday’s loss, said: “We took Ryan off because he had a bit of a problem with his hamstring.
“We will have to wait and see how he is but obviously we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it’s nothing too bad.”
Hearts need all the experience they can get right now, a fact exposed by the dramatic defeat by Neil Lennon’s side.
Locke conceded that Hearts had been outclassed by their Parkhead rivals and once again warned his players that they must cut out the errors which have cost them so dear this season: “It was a hard lesson for us.
“I think that Celtic, playing like that, would probably have beaten anyone by three or four.
“My worry at the start of the season was that something like that might happen and now it has. We need to respond in the right manner.”
Financially, a Cup run would have been a huge bonus for the cash-strapped Gorgie side but instead Locke now has to pick his young side up in time for this weekend’s league clash with Dundee United.
And he continued: “Yesterday was a harsh lesson for us.
“We were up against great players but at times I felt that we were making it too easy for them.
“As a manager you are always worried that a heavy defeat like that could have a detrimental effect on your players but one thing that we have said all season is that we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.
“We have got to take it on the chin.
“It was a hard day for us all and I feel pig sick for our fans who have stuck by us right through the game.
“That’s why it is important that we respond in the right manner next week.”