{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"hearts","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/steven-maclean-aims-to-use-his-cup-final-experience-to-propel-hearts-to-glory-1-4909599","id":"1.4909599","articleHeadline": "Steven MacLean aims to use his cup final experience to propel Hearts to glory","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555565413000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts striker Steven MacLean is chasing Scottish Cup glory with a third different club.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909598.1555525909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Steven MacLean scored as St Johnstone won the Cup for the first time"} ,"articleBody": "

The veteran was an unused substitute when Rangers defeated Dundee in the final at Hampden back in 2003 and then scored the second goal as St Johnstone defeated Dundee United 2-0 in the 2014 showpiece at Celtic Park.

Having been engulfed by the euphoria that accompanies such moments – particularly in the case of Saints’ triumph five years ago – MacLean is relishing the prospect of trying to help Hearts claim the Scottish Cup for the fourth time in just 21 years when they face treble-treble-chasing Celtic at Hampden next month.

“We have five league games and now a cup final to look forward to and hopefully we can go on and win it,” said the 36-year-old. “I was involved in a cup final with Rangers as a youngster but it’s not quite as special as when you play. The one with St Johnstone was great and when I saw the picture of that win in the semi-final programme on Saturday it gave me goosebumps.

“Hopefully we can go and win it with this group of players and create more special memories.”

MacLean savoured unbridled joy after firing Saints to their first Scottish Cup triumph and is considered a bona fide club legend as a result. He hopes the current Hearts team can experience something similar. “It was Saints’ first-ever win,” he said. “The days after that were special. Scenes! Late nights and long days! I try not to look back as you want to go and achieve again. But when I look back at those times with the boys, it was great. I did it with my mates and that’s special. I was rattling for a week afterwards! You still get people coming up to you years after the event. Look at the Hearts teams that have won cups – they have their own hall of fame dinners!”

Having got a taste of Scottish Cup glory at the very start of his career as a youngster emerging into Alex McLeish’s star-studded Rangers team, MacLean now has an unlikely chance to sample it again 16 years later and at an age when the majority of his peers have retired or dropped down the leagues.

“I was a sub in 2003 when big Amo (Lorenzo Amoruso) scored with his header to beat Dundee,” he said. “I was actually supposed to be coming on but Arthur Numan got injured and Kevin Muscat came on instead.

“That was the year that we won the league on the final day of the season and I think half the boys had been out from the Sunday to the Thursday. That’s probably why I got on the bench!

“I went up for my medal, but I feel like a bit of a fraud if I haven’t played. That’s maybe harsh, but you know what I mean. When you play it makes you feel more special. It would definitely mean more to climb the steps having played this time.

“Coming to Hearts you hope for opportunities, but finals don’t come around a lot so you have to take them when you get the chance. In a cup final it’s about what happens on the day - anything can happen.”

After starting 21 matches for Hearts before the winter break, MacLean’s only two starts this calendar year have come in the Scottish Cup ties against Auchinleck Talbot and away to Partick Thistle. He came on as a substitute midway through the second-half of Saturday’s semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle at a time when Hearts were leading 1-0 lead and helped them see out a comfortable 3-0 victory. The veteran knows the fight is now on to secure a place in the starting line-up for the final against Celtic. He is hoping this motivation throughout the squad will help Hearts, currently sixth in the Premiership, leapfrog their city rivals and at least finish the campaign as Edinburgh’s top dogs. “There are 20 boys who have that in their mind now and we have to finish the league season on a high, above Hibs, and then we have a final to look forward to,” he said. “There will definitely be competition for places.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909598.1555525909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909598.1555525909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Steven MacLean scored as St Johnstone won the Cup for the first time","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Steven MacLean scored as St Johnstone won the Cup for the first time","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909598.1555525909!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-boss-craig-levein-urges-his-squad-earn-your-place-in-my-cup-final-team-1-4909586","id":"1.4909586","articleHeadline": "Hearts boss Craig Levein urges his squad: Earn your place in my Cup final team","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555565400000 ,"articleLead": "

Craig Levein has challenged his Hearts players to try and secure themselves a place in his Scottish Cup final team by finishing the league campaign with a flourish.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909585.1555523291!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts manager Craig Levein"} ,"articleBody": "

Hearts, who sit sixth in the Ladbrokes Premiership, have five post-split fixtures to play before facing Celtic at Hampden in the season’s showpiece match on May 25.

Levein is hopeful that the incentive of playing a part in the final will bring out the best in his team for their upcoming league matches against Rangers, Hibs, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and Celtic.

“There’s a fair bit of water to flow under the bridge before the final so in the interim period we’ll be focused on being at our best and trying to pick up as many points as we can,” the manager told the Evening News. “I would think it will give us an extra spring in our step because there’ll be competition for places. I’m hoping that between now and the cup final we get some really good performances in the league because there are certainly places available for the people who want them the most.”

Hearts are hoping to pick up their first points of the post-split season against second-place Rangers at Tynecastle this Saturday. The Edinburgh side have lost their past six matches against the Ibrox team by an aggregate score of 15-4, and Levein is well aware their recent form in this fixture hasn’t been good enough.

“I don’t think we’ve done ourselves justice against Rangers,” he said. “They’re the team we’ve made most mistakes against. In the three matches this season we haven’t performed at a consistent enough level to take the points. We’ve shot ourselves in the foot on numerous occasions against them by giving away cheap goals so the first thing I’d be looking for this weekend is to make sure we don’t do any damage to ourselves.”

Meanwhile, Levein’s Hampden hearing over an allegation of misconduct yesterday was adjourned. A new date for it to resume has yet to be arranged.

Levein was called after an incident at an under-18 Edinburgh derby match in February, although the nature of the flashpoint has not been disclosed.

Levein, who attended in his role as director of football, was charged with breaching Disciplinary Rule 207, which states that “no official shall commit misconduct at a match”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909585.1555523291!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909585.1555523291!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts manager Craig Levein","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts manager Craig Levein","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909585.1555523291!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/gary-mackay-the-way-for-hearts-to-win-at-hampden-will-be-to-have-a-go-at-celtic-1-4909574","id":"1.4909574","articleHeadline": "Gary Mackay: The way for Hearts to win at Hampden will be to have a go at Celtic","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555565400000 ,"articleLead": "

Last Saturday’s objective for Hearts was simply to make sure we got past Inverness Caledonian Thistle and booked our place in the Scottish Cup final, so it was a case of job done.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909573.1555525414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Sean Clare shakes hands with Steven MacLean, as Olly Lee celebrates with Bobby Burns and Uche Ikpeazu"} ,"articleBody": "

We can quibble about the fact all our goals came from set-pieces but we’re clearly skilled in that department and there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

By getting to the final, there’s now a fresh excitement about the club because we know we’re involved in the last game of the season and are just 90 minutes away from winning a cup. If we can do that, it would be a culmination of the supporters’ endeavours, along with Ann Budge, to try and reinvigorate the football club.

It’s a great day for the supporters to look forward to. Because we’re playing Celtic, there won’t be anything like the level of expectation on Hearts as there might have been if they had been playing Aberdeen.

The pressure will all be on our opponents because it’s a potentially momentous day for them in terms of chasing the treble-treble.

My real desire is that we go on the front foot and press them. No matter whether Steven Naismith is fit or not, we need to treat it as win-or-bust. There’s nothing to lose for Hearts because most people will expect Celtic to win, so we can embrace our role as underdogs and try and cause an upset on the day. For me, the best way to do that is by being aggressive and having a go at Celtic, rather than sitting in and trying to contain them.

Celtic have three or four real quality players who are on a different level to anything Hearts have but by the same token there are a few players, particularly at centre-back and right-back, who I feel would be vulnerable if Hearts went about the game in a positive manner and were able to put them under pressure.

Getting to the cup final has clearly lifted the morale of the supporters and I hope it has a positive effect on the players for the remainder of the league campaign. Ultimately we want to go into the cup final in the best fettle possible so a good run of form in the league wouldn’t do us any harm in that regard.

The last league game of the season will be a peculiar one because we’re against Celtic and nobody knows at this stage how the two managers will approach that one and whether they will play fringe men or not, but we certainly have to look to use the other four games as a chance to put down a marker before the cup final and also for next season.

We need to bear in mind that, in the event that we don’t win the Scottish Cup, our 
season will be judged primarily by how we’ve done in the league so it’s important that we don’t end our Premiership campaign with a whimper. Given where we were in the league at present, it shouldn’t necessarily be about targeting a specific position in the table, it should be about focusing on trying to win as many of the last five games as possible and seeing if it’s enough to lift us up a position or two.

Rangers are first up on Saturday so hopefully we will have a real edge and a buzz to our play on the back of winning the semi-final last weekend.

Rangers had a great result at Motherwell in their last game so they won’t be easy to beat, but, as is always the case at Tynecastle, if we approach it in the right manner we will have a good chance of winning.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909573.1555525414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909573.1555525414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts' Sean Clare shakes hands with Steven MacLean, as Olly Lee celebrates with Bobby Burns and Uche Ikpeazu","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Sean Clare shakes hands with Steven MacLean, as Olly Lee celebrates with Bobby Burns and Uche Ikpeazu","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909573.1555525414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hearts-sean-clare-puts-rivalry-aside-to-back-hibs-marvin-bartley-over-racial-abuse-1-4909184","id":"1.4909184","articleHeadline": "Hearts’ Sean Clare ‘puts rivalry aside’ to back Hibs’ Marvin Bartley over racial abuse","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555507750000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts’ Sean Clare has publicly shown his support for rival Marvin Bartley over the racial abuse the Hibs midfielder suffered at this month’s Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909182.1555507745!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs' Marvin Bartley left, and Hearts' Sean Clare. Pictures: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The 32-year-old was targeted as he warmed up during the Ladbrokes Premiership clash, which Hibs won 2-1 thanks to a double from Daryl Horgan, with footage emerging of a Hearts fan branding the former Burnley and Leyton Orient player a “n*****” and a “black c***”.

Bartley earlier this week thanked fans “of various clubs and people of all creeds and colours” for the support he received in the aftermath of the incident.

In a message on Twitter, the ex-Bournemouth man wrote: “Just logged onto an unreal amount of messages of support from fans of various clubs and people of all creeds and colours nationwide. Thank you all for taking time out of your day to show support! #NoToRacism”.

Responding to Bartley, Clare wrote: “Putting our rivalry aside, my support is with you bro and anyone of any ethnicity or race who is subjected to this disgusting behaviour.

“There is no place for it anywhere in society, let alone at a football match. Needs to be addressed worldwide.”

Bartley responded with: “Truly appreciated bro, you’re completely right and it needs to stop now! Look forward to kicking you soon” to which Clare replied: “Exactly that bro. Only if you can catch me though!”

Bartley had posted a statement on social media after being made aware of the footage, in which he said: “I take everything that is thrown at me, as untrue as it is, when playing [at Tynecastle] and simply get on with it, but the one thing that I refuse to accept is racial abuse.

“So maybe it is time to take action against these small-minded, ignorant people. Let’s not let it creep back into our game!”

A 38-year-old man was arrested by Police Scotland in the days following the derby, and charged with allegedly directing racial language towards Bartley during the game.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909182.1555507745!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909182.1555507745!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs' Marvin Bartley left, and Hearts' Sean Clare. Pictures: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs' Marvin Bartley left, and Hearts' Sean Clare. Pictures: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909182.1555507745!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5775052899001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-manager-craig-levein-has-say-on-john-souttar-transfer-speculation-1-4908544","id":"1.4908544","articleHeadline": "Hearts manager Craig Levein has say on John Souttar transfer speculation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555495031000 ,"articleLead": "

Craig Levein insists Hearts have no plans to cash in on burgeoning centre-back John Souttar this summer.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908543.1555495026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Craig Levein feels he has 'all bases covered' with John Souttar. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The 23-year-old defender recently signed a contract extension tying him to the club until 2022, but speculation has already begun about his future, with reports over the weekend crediting Rangers with a strong interest in taking him to Ibrox. Levein laughed off this link in his post-match media briefing following Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, with the manager placing it in the same bracket as the unfounded rumour that he is planning to retire to Spain this summer.

Some supporters are concerned, however, that the recently-announced pre-contract signing of Livingston defender Craig Halkett is a sign that Hearts are preparing for the possible exit of their prized asset. Levein refuted this suggestion.

“We will lose Conor Shaughnessy, who is going back to Leeds, in the summer so obviously we needed another centre-back,” the manager told the Evening News. “Craig Halkett has not been signed in any way as a replacement for John Souttar. I hope John’s still with us for another couple of years. There’s nothing really to say about John other than we’re in a good position and John’s in a good position. He’s happy where he is, playing good football and improving all the time, and that was the reason he extended his contract. He feels there’s a little bit to go here, and so do I.”

Levein knows that Souttar’s impressive form over the past couple of seasons, which has taken him into the Scotland squad, has elevated him to a level where he is desirable to other clubs. While he refused to rule out the possibility that the former Dundee United player would be sold if a suitable offer was received, he is content that, given the fact he has more than years to run on his contract, Hearts have full control of the situation.

“We’ve got all bases covered with John,” said Levein. “He recently signed a three-and-a-half-year deal so it puts us in a strong position if there is anybody who is interested in trying to sign him. We’re in a good place in that regard. Whatever happens, we’ll just have to deal with it if anything comes along. The hard work’s been done and we’ve protected ourselves if he does leave but I don’t think that will happen this summer. This is football though – things happen when you least expect it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908543.1555495026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908543.1555495026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Craig Levein feels he has 'all bases covered' with John Souttar. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Craig Levein feels he has 'all bases covered' with John Souttar. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908543.1555495026!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6017744571001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-need-more-flair-in-team-and-craig-levein-plans-to-rectify-situation-1-4908661","id":"1.4908661","articleHeadline": "Hearts need more flair in team – and Craig Levein plans to rectify situation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555479000000 ,"articleLead": "

Analysing Hearts’ season so far is a fraught business since there are so many contradictory factors to consider.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908660.1555441464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts have the Scottish Cup final to look forward to next month. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

In a campaign where they were top of the Scottish Premiership in November, and have made it to both the Betfred Cup semi-final and the Scottish Cup final (yet to be played), it is remarkable that it isn’t able to be deemed a clear-cut success. The reason for this, of course, is the demoralising slump in league form over the past six months in which they have won only seven – and lost 12 – of their last 23 Premiership matches since going six points clear at the summit with a 3-0 win away to Dundee in the last week of October. During this period they have slipped from first place to sixth and are almost certainly out of contention for a top-four finish as they prepare to play out their five post-split fixtures before their big day against Celtic at Hampden next month.

Prior to Saturday’s much-needed Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hearts’ main source of cheer in the last six months had come from narrow victories away to Hibs and Kilmarnock, and at home to Aberdeen – the three sides directly above them. In addition to this, one of their best displays came in the recent home game against Celtic when they were unfortunate to lose 2-1. In contrast to their ability to make life difficult for the league’s better sides, they have generally toiled against the weaker teams, as evidenced by the fact St Johnstone are the only side in the bottom six they haven’t lost to. Given the fact Hearts have a core to their team (Christophe Berra, John Souttar, Peter Haring, Arnaud Djoum, Steven Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu) which can be considered, on paper at least, the equal of any side outside Celtic and Rangers, their current mid-table status is exasperating for their supporters and manager.

Injuries have clearly taken a toll, with four of the aforementioned key men missing significant segments of the season, Haring afflicted by hernia trouble for several months and Djoum pitched in in September on the back of a seven-month lay-off with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Perhaps most damagingly for Hearts, Naismith and Ikpeazu – the two pillars upon which Levein built his attack last summer – have been able to start together only four times since those giddy early months when they were being viewed as potential title contenders. Without those two busy-bodies simultaneously ruffling feathers, Hearts have been largely reliant on their set-piece expertise to get them goals, in addition to sporadic moments of quality from Sean Clare and Jake Mulraney, the two work-in-progress attackers who have blown hot and cold throughout the campaign.

As a result, Hearts have too often lacked the wherewithal to triumph in tight matches, regardless of the quality of opposition.

This is down to a shortage of creative spark in Hearts’ attack, with the Tynecastle side currently lacking someone in the mould of Daryl Horgan, Gary Mackay-Steven or Jordan Jones – a trio of lively wide players who have helped elevate Hibs, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock above them in the table.

Levein acknowledged recently that his team is in need of more flair, a situation he plans to rectify in the summer. “We could do with two or three players in the front area of the field that can help us in those games where there’s deadlock and we need to get in front,” Levein told the Evening News this week.

While the bustling nature of either Naismith or Ikpeazu in attack always gives Hearts a fighting chance, they have no other players in the final third they can currently hang their hat on. Clare and Mulraney clearly have talent but must add more consistency and ruthlessness to take their game to a level whereby Levein can properly rely on them. Craig Wighton falls into a similar category. “All three of them will have a part to play next season so I’m quite excited about that,” said Levein, who is hopeful that this trio will benefit from getting their first season at Tynecastle under their belts.

Hearts’ defensive and central-midfield department is in reasonably good order both at present and in relation to next season. While they have conceded more goals than they would have liked this term, the lack of continuity in personnel and long-term injury to key players has been a significant factor. Christophe Berra and John Souttar, assisted by Craig Halkett, Michael Smith and Clevid Dikamona, should be capable of rediscovering their dual solidity if starting next term injury-free. Even if the on-form Djoum chooses to leave under freedom of contract in the summer, Hearts will still be fairly well covered in midfield, with the dominant Haring plus Olly Lee, Olly Bozanic and Harry Cochrane. While any or all of Clare, Mulraney, Wighton and teenage winger Callumn Morrison could yet develop into reliable match-winners in time, Hearts could desperately do with adding some more established creative players to take the burden off Naismith and Ikpeazu and allow the team to start fulfilling its potential. The problem, of course, is sourcing these players within Hearts’ budget.

Levein had high hopes for Danny Amankwaa when he signed him just over a year ago, but the former Copenhagen winger – with the edge taken off his game following serious injury – lacked the required intensity and work ethic. Clare, who has chipped in with some lovely goals against Livingston, Kilmarnock and Dundee, would probably have had a better chance of hitting the ground running if he hadn’t been pitched in at a time when Naismith and Ikpeazu had just been sidelined by long-term injury.

In the absence of a reliable source of thrust and spark in recent months, it is easy to imagine that a player like David Milinkovic – who shone in an inferior Hearts team last term while on loan from Genoa – would have made a significant difference this season. Ultimately, however, as is usually the case with more proven attacking players who aren’t afflicted by fitness issues, finance was the stumbling block.

In his previous managerial reigns at Hearts and Dundee United, Levein was well-served by creative players like Jean-Louis Valois, Craig Conway and Danny Swanson. None of this trio were deemed big-hitters when he signed them, but they all developed into key men. Whether through the continued nurturing of the creative players already on the books at Hearts, or by pushing the boat out to get a couple of quality senior players who have already proven they have the ability to carve open top-level defences, Levein knows he needs to add a sprinkling of stardust to a team which otherwise has most of the key nuts and bolts in place. “Goals obviously change games so getting the first goal is always important,” he said. “The more players you’ve got who have that as their strengths, the better, so we’re looking for creative players who can not just assist but score as well. I’ve got a fair idea what we need for next season so I’m working behind the scenes on that. I feel that we’re not far away. We’ll only need to do three or four things rather than what we’ve done in the past couple of summers.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908660.1555441464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908660.1555441464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts have the Scottish Cup final to look forward to next month. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts have the Scottish Cup final to look forward to next month. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908660.1555441464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/albert-kidd-responds-to-sandy-clark-tirade-and-is-truly-sorry-hearts-never-won-league-1-4908684","id":"1.4908684","articleHeadline": "Albert Kidd responds to Sandy Clark tirade and ‘is truly sorry’ Hearts never won league","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555479000000 ,"articleLead": "

Albert Kidd has advised Sandy Clark to stop living in the past after the former Hearts striker revealed he wanted to “kick his head in”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908683.1555445343!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Albert Kidd scored twice for Dundee against Hearts, denying the Jambos the title in 1986. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Kidd was instrumental in Hearts missing out on the Scottish title on the last day of the season at Dens Park in 1986 after scoring two late goals for Dundee against the visitors, who needed just a point to win the league.

Celtic’s 5-0 victory over St Mirren on the same afternoon was the required margin to leapfrog Hearts in a dramatic finale.

But Clark, speaking on Radio Scotland’s Off the Ball programme on Saturday, was more angered by Kidd’s subsequent conduct. He claimed Kidd “rubbed salt in the wounds” with his comments about being a Celtic supporter.

Kidd, who now lives in Australia, has often been invited as guest of honour to Celtic supporters’ functions.

“Albert Kidd, who is somebody I don’t know that well, I would like to have kicked his head in,” said Clark. “Not then, his comments [since] and his bit about teams he supported.”

Kidd has been taken aback by the strength of feeling displayed by Clark over three decades later.

“Had he said this right after the game and continued to say this for a couple of years, so be it and I wouldn’t have been surprised, but 33 years on, is a long time between drinks,” said Kidd, who recalled meeting Clark at the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Dinner in Glasgow in 2016.

“Thirty minutes into the function, I noticed Sandy Clark at a table nearby. I approached him and greeted him saying: ‘Sandy Clark, it has been a while sir, how are you?’ His response was delayed and my first thought was: ‘jeez he doesn’t know me’.

“I proceeded to tell him who I was and he answered by saying: ‘I know who you are’. So the conversation was fabulous and lasted eight to ten seconds.

“I knew from that moment that he was still hurting and if I continued speaking, he may well have got a bit out of sorts.

“I would like it to be put on record by saying that I am truly sorry that Hearts never won the championship in 1986,” added Kidd.

“Yes, I had a hand in the end result and Celtic, who I follow and support, benefited greatly.

“However, I must say that I was sincerely and absolutely gutted for all of the lads at Hearts on that day in May 1986 at Dundee – and this includes Sandy Clark, who I respected as a very good professional football player and who I first met and played against way back in 1979/80 when he was the captain at Airdrie and I was captain at Motherwell.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALAN PATTULLO"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908683.1555445343!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908683.1555445343!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Albert Kidd scored twice for Dundee against Hearts, denying the Jambos the title in 1986. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Albert Kidd scored twice for Dundee against Hearts, denying the Jambos the title in 1986. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908683.1555445343!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-most-memorable-victories-over-celtic-in-the-last-30-years-1-4908677","id":"1.4908677","articleHeadline": "Hearts' most memorable victories over Celtic in the last 30 years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555441822036 ,"articleLead": "Hearts face Celtic in the 2018/19 William Hill Scottish Cup final next month, looking to lift the trophy for the ninth time in the club's history.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908664.1555446103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts celebrate Rudi Skacel's goal in the 2-1 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic"} ,"articleBody": "

Here, we look back at some of the Tynecastle side's most memorable victories over the Hoops in the last three decades...

" ,"byline": {"email": "ensport@edinburghnews.com" ,"author": "Kathleen Oates"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908664.1555446103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908664.1555446103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts celebrate Rudi Skacel's goal in the 2-1 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts celebrate Rudi Skacel's goal in the 2-1 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Celtic","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908664.1555446103!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908665.1555446129!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908665.1555446129!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kyle Lafferty scored the only goal as Hearts beat the double-treble winners at Tynecastle during their early run of form that saw them top the table.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kyle Lafferty scored the only goal as Hearts beat the double-treble winners at Tynecastle during their early run of form that saw them top the table.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908665.1555446129!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908666.1555446143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908666.1555446143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts ran riot as they brought Celtic's 69-game unbeaten run to a shuddering halt. 16-year-old Harry Cochrane scored the opener before Kyle Lafferty and David Milinkovic (x2) also got on the scoresheet","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts ran riot as they brought Celtic's 69-game unbeaten run to a shuddering halt. 16-year-old Harry Cochrane scored the opener before Kyle Lafferty and David Milinkovic (x2) also got on the scoresheet","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908666.1555446143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908667.1555446160!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908667.1555446160!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts set up a mouthwatering all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final with a late, late win over Celtic in the semis. Craig Beattie scored an injury-time penalty, before THIS celebration...","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts set up a mouthwatering all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final with a late, late win over Celtic in the semis. Craig Beattie scored an injury-time penalty, before THIS celebration...","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908667.1555446160!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908668.1555446173!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908668.1555446173!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts travelled to Parkhead for this League Cup quarter-final, with a brace from Andrius Velicka in the last 13 minutes securing victory for the Jambos under coach Stevie Frail.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts travelled to Parkhead for this League Cup quarter-final, with a brace from Andrius Velicka in the last 13 minutes securing victory for the Jambos under coach Stevie Frail.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908668.1555446173!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908669.1555445736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908669.1555445736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts spoiled Celtic's title-winning party as Kestutis Ivaskevicius, Andrew Driver and Michal Pospisil gave them a 3-1 win, with ex-Jambos captain Steven Pressley replying for the Hoops","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts spoiled Celtic's title-winning party as Kestutis Ivaskevicius, Andrew Driver and Michal Pospisil gave them a 3-1 win, with ex-Jambos captain Steven Pressley replying for the Hoops","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908669.1555445736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908670.1555445738!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908670.1555445738!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Roman Bednar did the damage as Hearts went joint-top of the SPL with this win. Managers Gordon Strachan and John McGlynn were sent to the stand as a Neil Lennon error gifted Hearts the winner","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Roman Bednar did the damage as Hearts went joint-top of the SPL with this win. Managers Gordon Strachan and John McGlynn were sent to the stand as a Neil Lennon error gifted Hearts the winner","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908670.1555445738!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908671.1555445739!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908671.1555445739!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts took a big step towards a second-place finish with this win in which they went 2-0 up inside the first 10 minutes and kept a clean sheet, eventually finishing a point clear of Rangers in third.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts took a big step towards a second-place finish with this win in which they went 2-0 up inside the first 10 minutes and kept a clean sheet, eventually finishing a point clear of Rangers in third.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908671.1555445739!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908672.1555445740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908672.1555445740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts were two goals up inside 20 minutes at Parkhead, with ex-Celtic striker Mark Burchill netting the second. The Jambos held on to record a fine win and clean sheet.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts were two goals up inside 20 minutes at Parkhead, with ex-Celtic striker Mark Burchill netting the second. The Jambos held on to record a fine win and clean sheet.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908672.1555445740!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908675.1555445741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908675.1555445741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Colin Cameron's late penalty capped an incredible comeback from Hearts as they overturned a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 and helped secure a third-place finish.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Colin Cameron's late penalty capped an incredible comeback from Hearts as they overturned a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 and helped secure a third-place finish.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908675.1555445741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908673.1555445742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908673.1555445742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts' second league win of the season over Celtic, with Scott Crabbe and John Millar on target for the Jambos despite John Collins pulling one back with five minutes to play","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' second league win of the season over Celtic, with Scott Crabbe and John Millar on target for the Jambos despite John Collins pulling one back with five minutes to play","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908673.1555445742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908674.1555445743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908674.1555445743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Hagen's second-half goal was hugely instrumental in Hearts avoiding relegation. The Jambos finished just 7 points clear of basement side Dundee United but were just 10 points off third as well.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Hagen's second-half goal was hugely instrumental in Hearts avoiding relegation. The Jambos finished just 7 points clear of basement side Dundee United but were just 10 points off third as well.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908674.1555445743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908676.1555445744!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908676.1555445744!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts recorded a comprehensive victory over Celtic at Tynecastle thanks to goals from George Wright, Craig Levein and Scott Crabbe. The Jambos eventually finished second.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts recorded a comprehensive victory over Celtic at Tynecastle thanks to goals from George Wright, Craig Levein and Scott Crabbe. The Jambos eventually finished second.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908676.1555445744!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/edinburgh-evening-news-football-app-to-close-1-4908584","id":"1.4908584","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh Evening News football app to close","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555429602000 ,"articleLead": "

The Edinburgh Evening News football app is to close as we improve how you get the very latest on our mobile-friendly website.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908583.1555429346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The EEN football app will close."} ,"articleBody": "

We are constantly trying to improve the way we deliver the latest news and insight about the Capital's football clubs and have decided to close our downloadable app as our responsive website is the best place to go for updates.

The app will close shortly and will be removed from the Google Play and Apple stores, so please go to our Sport section to keep on top of what is happening at Hearts and Hibs.

You’ll see that we are constantly building on how we cover match days and how we bring you the latest transfer news and rumours from around the world. There will be new sections on the site for both match coverage and transfer news.

We will also be continuing to bring you more data-driven insight into your club and the league they play in and more opinions about what is happening on and off the pitch.

So, bookmark the Hearts or Hibs section on your browser, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and we’ll see you in the stands.

" ,"byline": {"email": "sam.shedden@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "EEN Reporter"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908583.1555429346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908583.1555429346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The EEN football app will close.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The EEN football app will close.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908583.1555429346!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/crime/hearts-fan-banned-from-scottish-cup-final-after-trying-to-smuggle-smoke-bomb-into-hampden-1-4908476","id":"1.4908476","articleHeadline": "Hearts fan banned from Scottish Cup Final after trying to smuggle smoke bomb into Hampden","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555423544000 ,"articleLead": "

A HEARTS fan will miss the Scottish Cup Final after trying to sneak a smoke bomb into Hampden Park.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908576.1555428444!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pyrotechnic devices were set off at the semi-final match at Hampden. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Stuart Brunton was snared as he turned up for the Jambos semi final clash with Inverness Caledonian Thistle last Saturday.

READ MORE: Notre-Dame fire: Authorities say devastating blaze ‘fully extinguished’

The 21 year-old, of Gracemount, Edinburgh, was held after a smoke canister fell out his pocket after going through the turnstiles.

It lead to Brunton appearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

READ MORE: Scotland’s gay rugby players offer thanks to Scott Hastings

He pled guilty to a charge of possessing a controlled substance which emits smoke.

Brunton will be sentenced next month.

But, Sheriff Allan Findlay meantime banned him from entering a football stadium within the UK.

It means Brunton will not be back at Hampden for the Hearts and Celtic final on May 25.

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908576.1555428444!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908576.1555428444!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pyrotechnic devices were set off at the semi-final match at Hampden. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pyrotechnic devices were set off at the semi-final match at Hampden. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908576.1555428444!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/comment-opportunity-knocks-for-hearts-bobby-burns-after-whirlwind-year-1-4908470","id":"1.4908470","articleHeadline": "Comment: Opportunity knocks for Hearts’ Bobby Burns after whirlwind year","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555422830000 ,"articleLead": "

Bobby Burns has emerged as Hearts’ first choice at left-back. Joel Sked looks at a player who will play a key role for the rest of the campaign.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908468.1555422825!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Bobby Burns celebrates during the 3-0 win over Inverness at Hampden Park. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey"} ,"articleBody": "

Opportunity and luck are intertwined. The former often presents itself on the back of the latter. Famous American personality Oprah Winfrey says luck is the meeting of preparation and opportunity.

For Hearts teenager Bobby Burns he has been granted such opportunity. To not only gain valuable first team football at Tynecastle but also the chance to become a club legend at such a young age.

His fortune has come on the back of the misfortune of others, as is so often the way in football. Serious injuries to Demetri Mitchell and Ben Garuccio has meant Craig Levein being without his first and second choice left-backs since the end of March.

He has been forced to tweak his side, something he has had to become familiar with such has been the nature of Hearts’ injury record. In the win over Aberdeen and loss to Rangers the Tynecastle boss opted for a back three using Jake Mulraney and Jamie Brandon as wing-backs respectively.

However, for the last two games, Burns has been fielded on the left of a back four. Not just any fixtures, but an Edinburgh derby and Scottish Cup semi-final. Two significant matches.

It is not a situation Levein would have liked to have been in, fielding a 19-year-old in a position he has experience in but not one he has played regularly.

This time last year Burns was still at school, head boy at St Malachy’s College in Northern Ireland. Despite playing with Glenavon at the time, Burns left with two A* and an A in his A-levels.

The move to Hearts and the transition to full-time football in the summer did not dissuade Burns from further education, the player has undertaken a part-time Open University degree in maths and business management.

Not only does it highlight the mature head on the player’s shoulders but also the personal transformation across the last 12 months. A lot has happened.

The 19-year-old showed promise on his debut in the Betfred Cup against Cove Rangers in a midfield role before playing the full game against Raith Rovers a few days later. It suggested that despite his lack of experience of full-time football he would be in around the first-team squad for the season.

Circumstances change quickly in football. Hearts were well stocked at left-back and in the centre of midfield, allowing Burns to join Livingston on loan a few days prior to the close of the summer transfer window.

It wasn’t an overly fruitful loan spell with just three starts and eight appearances overall. Yet, three of those did come against the Old Firm.

Recalled in January, there was the feeling that he would be used more often at Tynecastle especially with inconsistencies at left-back but that wasn’t to be the case, only a watching brief from the stands. That was until an appearance from the bench against Rangers which was enough to see him installed for the visit of Hibs.

Up against Daryl Horgan, Burns had a difficult afternoon. Over the piece he did not have a particularly bad game but it was Horgan who scored both goals, the Irishman proving too quick.

He was a lot more comfortable up against Tom Walsh as Hearts progressed to the Scottish Cup final with a 3-0 win at Hampden Park.

It means Burns is now in pole position to take a starting berth at the showdown against Celtic on Saturday, 25 May.

Between now and then he has five games in which he can get further up to speed with the demands of the left-back position in Scotland, while building a relationship with Christophe Berra.

There should be little doubt about Burns’ technical qualities. He takes care of the ball well, passes firmly and accurately and can be a threat from wide. Yet, an area of concern regards the player’s pace and acceleration, especially as his captain also has similar issues.

It makes the next five games vital.

Burns will come up against Daniel Candeias and James Tavernier when Rangers come to Tynecastle on Saturday. He will have another meeting with Horgan, this time at Easter Road, while Aberdeen have the strong running of Connor McLennan or the jinking qualities of Niall McGinn to contend with.

It is preparation for facing the best winger in the country. It is highly unlikely Burns and James Forrest will come up against each other in the last league game of the season, but they will in the cup final.

Forrest is rapid, over short and long distances. He is a danger inside and outside. His mere presence has full-backs questioning what is about to happen next. The biggest quality in combating the Scotland international is focus. A drop in concentration for a split second will see him take advantage.

With help from team-mates, more game time, with that concentration, with a clear head and determination, Burns can reach that level to keep Forrest quiet when it matters in May.

If he succeeds he could have played a pivotal role in helping Hearts lift the Scottish Cup and stop the treble treble. Doing so will complete a whirlwind 12 months for the player and see him earn his place in Heart of Midlothian history.

To keep up-to-date with all our stories from across Edinburgh and the Lothians like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

Sign up to our newsletter: enter your email in the box at the top of this article to get daily updates straight to your inbox.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908468.1555422825!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908468.1555422825!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts' Bobby Burns celebrates during the 3-0 win over Inverness at Hampden Park. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Bobby Burns celebrates during the 3-0 win over Inverness at Hampden Park. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908468.1555422825!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5755565579001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/scottish-football-live-ibrox-legend-tells-dave-king-to-stump-up-parkhead-link-with-polish-side-striker-to-make-celtic-return-rangers-allocation-cut-hearts-ace-will-wait-on-contract-1-4908123","id":"1.4908123","articleHeadline": "Scottish Football Live: Ibrox legend tells Dave King to stump up | Parkhead link with Polish side | Striker to make Celtic return | Rangers allocation cut | Hearts ace will wait on contract","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555414372000 ,"articleLead": "

Follow The Scotsman’s daily blog as we keep you updated with all the latest news, views, rumours and much more from around Scottish football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908121.1555414368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic manager eyes striker return. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey"} ,"articleBody": "

Refresh for live updates.

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908121.1555414368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908121.1555414368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Celtic manager eyes striker return. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic manager eyes striker return. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908121.1555414368!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5785066117001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-v-manchester-united-programme-sells-for-more-than-4-000-1-4908309","id":"1.4908309","articleHeadline": "Hearts v Manchester United programme sells for more than £4,000","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555411717000 ,"articleLead": "

A Hearts programme from a game against English giants Manchester United in 1960 has sold at an auction for around £4,500.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908305.1555412117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Hearts programme sold for more than �4,000. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey"} ,"articleBody": "

The item went on sale at Stacey’s Auctioneers and Valuers on Monday and had an estimate between £30 and £40.

However, it sold for more than 100 times the price with the hammer going down at £3,600. A buyer’s premium was added to take it to around £4,500, making it one of, if not the most expensive Hearts programmes ever.

It is from Hearts’ 10-game tour of North America at the end of the famous 1959-1960 season in which the team won the league and League Cup double.

The Jam Tarts met Manchester United, managed by Matt Busby, on four occasions during the tour but this particular item is from the American League Soccer News ahead of the clubs’ meeting in New York, a game which Manchester United would win 3-0 in front of more than 10,000 fans at Triborough Stadium.

It advertises “Manchester United of England vs’ Hearts of Scotland - English and Scottish Booters Again Welcomed to New York.”

The Americans were delighted to witness the teams compete.

It read: “It’s an honour to welcome distinguished guests, a pleasure the second time while on a third occasions we consider them “one of the family”. And that is our sentiments today as we again extend a friendly hand to Manchester United, of England and Hearts (sic) of Midlothian, of Scotland.”

Football fans in New York were familiar with the Capital side, Hearts having embarked on a nine-game North American tour in 1958.

They defeated Manchester City 6-5 at the illustrious Ebbets Field, which was home to the Brooklyn Dodgers until 1957.

“Hearts, too, are no strangers, having staged the memorable May 1958 exciting game, played in a torrential downpour before 25,000-odd spectators, against Manchester City, of England, edging the English team by a 6-5 score. Since that eventual game, Hearts last summer visited Austrialia (sic), where they made a shambles of the Down Under Patriots, winning by lopsided 13-0, etc., scores on a 10-game tour.

“Hearts, newly-crowned champions of the Scottish First Division, are under the leadership of Tommy Walker, a former Scottish international player, as is Matt Busby.”

It added: “Tommy Walker, Manager of Hearts, had an early international baptism. At 18 years of age in 1935, he was Scotland’s youngest player against England and Wales. He had a total of 25 international appearances during his playing career.”

The programme also noted that Jimmy Wardhaugh, who captained the side in the “spine-tingler” against Manchester City as he was “now playing for Dunfermline Athletic”.

Manchester United received the “British Commonwealth Cup” for wining the game after it was donated by former United player Ira G. Harrison. He had also presented Hearts with the “New York Empire State Cup” for the win over City in 1958.

The Jam Tarts won five of their ten games during the 1960 tour, including a 4-0 defeat of United, gaining their revenge a few days later.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908305.1555412117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908305.1555412117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A Hearts programme sold for more than �4,000. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Hearts programme sold for more than �4,000. Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908305.1555412117!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908306.1555412123!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908306.1555412123!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The first page of the Hearts v Manchester United programme. Picture: Stacey's Auctioneers","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The first page of the Hearts v Manchester United programme. Picture: Stacey's Auctioneers","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908306.1555412123!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908307.1555412127!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908307.1555412127!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The reverse of the Hearts v Manchester United programme. Picture: Stacey's Auctioneers","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The reverse of the Hearts v Manchester United programme. Picture: Stacey's Auctioneers","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908307.1555412127!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5795246155001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/arnaud-djoum-gives-update-on-contract-situation-and-hearts-future-1-4907834","id":"1.4907834","articleHeadline": "Arnaud Djoum gives update on contract situation and Hearts future","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555392600000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum will take his time to weigh up his options before making a decision on his future.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907833.1555344730!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Arnaud Djoum"} ,"articleBody": "

The 29-year-old is out of contract this summer but has been offered a new deal to remain at Tynecastle. Manager Craig Levein said in January that Djoum, who turns 30 in a fortnight, was “at an age where he wants to get one last big contract in his professional career” and admitted that the key midfielder may be able to get a more lucrative deal elsewhere, with French top-flight side Toulouse among those credited with an interested.

Djoum, speaking about his future for the first time since he became free to speak to other clubs regarding a potential pre-contract, told the Evening News he is remaining open-minded.

“I am not really any further forward with my contract situation,” he said. “I just want to finish the season, try and win the Scottish Cup and then afterwards I will think about it with my family and make the right decision.”

Djoum’s recent form has been one of the main positives during a period when Hearts have struggled for consistency in the league. After an injury-disrupted 2017/18 campaign and then a further seven months out with an Achilles’ injury last year, the midfielder, who has started all bar two of his team’s matches since returning to action last September, is delighted with his current form. “I feel much better now,” he said. “This is one of the most consistent periods I’ve had at Hearts. Since the winter break, I’ve been happy with my performances – I feel I have been playing really well. I try to give everything for the club and enjoy my football, so I am happy.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907833.1555344730!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907833.1555344730!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Arnaud Djoum","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Arnaud Djoum","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907833.1555344730!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-kid-bobby-burns-reveals-emotions-as-mother-attended-semi-final-1-4907955","id":"1.4907955","articleHeadline": "Hearts kid Bobby Burns reveals emotions as mother attended semi-final","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555392600000 ,"articleLead": "

For Bobby Burns, Saturday’s victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle wasn’t just about helping Hearts reach a Scottish Cup final.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907954.1555354274!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Bobby Burns celebrates at Hampden"} ,"articleBody": "

It was also a chance to put a smile on the face of his doting mother as she travelled to Scotland to watch her teenage son play for Hearts in the biggest game of his young life, despite being plagued by health problems for much of the past year.

“My mum was pretty sick last summer with heart problems so it was hard for me to settle at first,” said Burns, pictured below, who joined Hearts last July.

“Thankfully, she is better now and she was at the game. I went up to her after the game and gave her a big hug. That was an emotional moment.

“I was saying to her to be careful because she gets very into the football matches, screaming and taking photos so I told her to calm down. She’s fine though. She had pacemaker wires in the summer. They take them out and put new ones in. She’s keeping much better now, she’s healthy thank God.

“Myself and my brother were getting more into religion, just praying and letting God control whatever happens with her health and our family.

“It was brilliant to have her over here for the game. She missed the bus from Tynecastle on the morning of the game! She was in the wrong suite so they had to turn it back and get her.

“It was her first time at Tynecastle, she was at the wrong suite and I was trying to sort that out before the game. She got here in the end, which was great.”

Burns, from Crumlin in Northern Ireland, is indebted to his parents for the part they played in allowing him to forge a football career. His father and his brothers are set to head over to Hampden for the final against Celtic next month.

“They were a terrific influence of me,” said the 19-year-old. “That’s why I would love to give something back to them.

“I was from more of a rural area of Northern Ireland. I played for a lot of clubs and they drove me everywhere. They had no real social life. Their social life was the football. It was an hour, an hour and a half-drive at times. They made a massive commitment to me and that’s why I want to make the most of the opportunity.”

After joining Hearts last summer and playing a part in their Betfred Cup group matches and the league opener at Hamilton, Burns was then loaned to Livingston for most of the first half of the season. He has had to bide his time to start making headway at Tynecastle but long-term injuries to Demetri Mitchell and Ben Garuccio have paved the way for him to take control of the left-back position.

After making his first appearance for Hearts since returning from Livingston in January as a substitute away to Rangers a fortnight ago, he was a surprise starter against Hibs a week past Saturday and then retained his place on Saturday.

“This time last year I was finishing school. It is an unbelievable turnaround,” he said, reflecting on his new-found status as a starter in a Hearts team gunning for glory.

“It has been an up-and-down season, going on loan and having some good results for the Northern Ireland Under-21s against Spain and Mexico.

“There have been downs as well with injury and my mum’s health so you have to enjoy the good times while they last. If I could win the Scottish Cup final it would be a dream end to my first season in Scottish football.

“I’ve just got to keep trying to get myself in the team.

“There is huge competition for places and I’ve had to deal with that too since coming back from Livingston on loan in January. There were different people playing left back and you kind of wondered whether you would ever get your chance.

“I just kept plugging away, trying to do the extras and some of the coaches were particularly supportive.

“Thankfully, when I’ve got my chance, I’ve done OK.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907954.1555354274!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907954.1555354274!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts' Bobby Burns celebrates at Hampden","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' Bobby Burns celebrates at Hampden","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907954.1555354274!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-star-arnaud-djoum-on-a-mission-to-reward-hearts-with-the-scottish-cup-1-4907890","id":"1.4907890","articleHeadline": "Hearts star Arnaud Djoum on a mission to reward Hearts with the Scottish Cup","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555392600000 ,"articleLead": "

As Hearts’ longest-serving player, Arnaud Djoum is desperate to savour his first trophy wearing maroon.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907888.1555360167!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts star Arnaud Djoum, left, battles with with Liam Polworth during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final"} ,"articleBody": "

With his fourth - and potentially final - season with Hearts nearing a conclusion, the 29-year-old midfielder knows the ultimate glory is now just 90 minutes away after Saturday’s emphatic victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle set up a showdown with treble-treble-chasing Celtic in next month’s William Hill Scottish Cup final.

Since arriving in Edinburgh as an unheralded signing from Lech Poznan in September 2015, Djoum has established himself as a mainstay within a Hearts team which, aside from finishing third in his first season at the club, has generally been unable to contend at the very sharp end in the league and cup competitions. Victory over Neil Lennon’s players at Hampden on May 25 would give the Cameroon midfielder the type of moment he has craved throughout his time at a club with which he has developed a strong affinity.

“I’ve been here for a long time and there have been a lot of ups and downs in that time so it would mean a lot to me to win this cup,” Djoum told the Evening News. “I’ve never been to a final with Hearts so I was really motivated before the Inverness game because I knew this could be something special.

“I’ve never won a cup at club level before. I won the league in Poland but I didn’t play a lot so it didn’t have the same feeling. I didn’t really feel part of it. With Hearts, I have played a lot so for me it’s really special. I have been here a long time and the club is really special to me so it would be a really emotional moment to win the trophy with Hearts. I will do everything to try and repay this club by winning the trophy.”

Although silverware has been in short supply at club level for Djoum, he has experienced the thrill of winning a major competition at international level. Just over two years ago, the former Roda JC midfielder helped Cameroon defeat Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations final in Gabon. Djoum will never forget the jubilant scenes that followed that triumph and wants to experience similar in Gorgie during the final week of May. “I know the importance of winning trophies,” he said. “I’ve won one already with Cameroon and I want to win more trophies. Winning the Africa Cup of Nations motivates me a lot. I know what it takes to win a trophy and I know what it can be like afterwards so I’m so motivated to win this trophy.”

Having fallen out of contention for a top-four spot in the Premiership following a poor run of league form in recent months, there was significant pressure on Hearts to ensure they got past Championship outfit Inverness Caledonian Thistle in Saturday’s semi-final. Second-half goals from Uche Ikpeazu, John Souttar and Sean Clare ultimately took the Edinburgh side into the final with plenty to spare. “It was the biggest game of the season for the club and the fans so we were delighted to get through,” said Djoum. “I could feel the pressure in the build-up. Hearts are a big club in Scotland so the pressure is always quite high, but especially after losing to Hibs the week before. We did well to deal with the pressure though.”

Hearts had almost 18,000 expectant supporters in Glasgow and Djoum was buoyed by the sight of a maroon and white wall in front of him as he emerged from the Hampden tunnel at kick-off time. “It was really nice to come out of the tunnel and see all the Hearts fans,” he said. “When you know so many people have come to support you, it gives you an extra boost. They helped us a lot on Saturday. The victory was for them.”

Djoum is hoping the feelgood factor generated by reaching a first cup final since they lost the 2013 League Cup showpiece to St Mirren can help Hearts thrive in their final five matches of a league campaign where the best they can realistically hope for appears to be beating city rivals Hibs to fifth place. “Getting to the final is a big thing for the confidence of the team as well as the supporters,” said Djoum. “A cup final is something really big to look forward to. It should give us a lot of confidence for the remaining league games. We don’t have so much pressure on us for these games now so hopefully we can enjoy them and try and win as many as possible. We have nothing to lose in these last five games and we know we have a cup final at the end, so let’s just enjoy these games. Hopefully we can end the season really well and give ourselves a good chance to go and win the cup.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907888.1555360167!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907888.1555360167!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts star Arnaud Djoum, left, battles with with Liam Polworth during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts star Arnaud Djoum, left, battles with with Liam Polworth during the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907888.1555360167!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/scottish-football-live-rangers-chief-s-fighting-talk-lennon-given-no-guarantees-over-job-celtic-could-be-boosted-by-dembele-sale-hibs-boss-on-transfer-plans-1-4907474","id":"1.4907474","articleHeadline": "Scottish Football Live: Rangers chief’s fighting talk | Lennon given no guarantees over job | Celtic could be boosted by Dembele sale | Hibs boss on transfer plans","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555331782000 ,"articleLead": "

Follow The Scotsman’s daily blog as we keep you updated with all the latest news, views, rumours and much more from around Scottish football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907472.1555331778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Moussa Dembele is being watched by Manchester United and Arsenal. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy"} ,"articleBody": "

Refresh for live updates.

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907472.1555331778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907472.1555331778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Moussa Dembele is being watched by Manchester United and Arsenal. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Moussa Dembele is being watched by Manchester United and Arsenal. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907472.1555331778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5793294221001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/revealed-how-many-tv-appearances-made-by-hearts-and-hibs-in-the-premiership-this-season-1-4907646","id":"1.4907646","articleHeadline": "Revealed: How many TV appearances made by Hearts and Hibs in the Premiership this season","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555331412000 ,"articleLead": "

It is widely accepted in Scottish football that Celtic and Rangers will dominate live television coverage. But how do Hearts and Hibs compare?

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907644.1555331363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

By the final day of the season there will have been 59 live Premiership games shown across Sky Sports and BT. Scroll through to see where the Edinburgh teams rank.

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907644.1555331363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907644.1555331363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907644.1555331363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907631.1555331366!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907631.1555331366!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 3 Against Old Firm: 3","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 3 Against Old Firm: 3","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907631.1555331366!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907632.1555331369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907632.1555331369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 4. Against Old Firm: 3.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 4. Against Old Firm: 3.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907632.1555331369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907633.1555331373!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907633.1555331373!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 4. Against Old Firm: 3.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 4. Against Old Firm: 3.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907633.1555331373!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907634.1555331376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907634.1555331376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 5. Against Old Firm: 3.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 5. Against Old Firm: 3.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907634.1555331376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907635.1555331379!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907635.1555331379!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 5. Against Old Firm: 3.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 5. Against Old Firm: 3.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907635.1555331379!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907636.1555331384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907636.1555331384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 7. Against Old Firm: 3.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 7. Against Old Firm: 3.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907636.1555331384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907637.1555331388!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907637.1555331388!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 8. Against Old Firm: 5.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 8. Against Old Firm: 5.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907637.1555331388!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907638.1555331391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907638.1555331391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 9. Against Old Firm: 6","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 9. Against Old Firm: 6","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907638.1555331391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907639.1555331393!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907639.1555331393!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 13. Against Old Firm: 5","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 13. Against Old Firm: 5","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907639.1555331393!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907640.1555331399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907640.1555331399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 13. Against Old Firm: 5","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 13. Against Old Firm: 5","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907640.1555331399!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907641.1555331403!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907641.1555331403!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 23","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 23","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907641.1555331403!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907642.1555331408!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907642.1555331408!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Live appearances: 24","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Live appearances: 24","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907642.1555331408!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-peter-haring-blasts-experts-who-backed-inverness-to-win-1-4907613","id":"1.4907613","articleHeadline": "Hearts’ Peter Haring blasts ‘experts’ who backed Inverness to win","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555328050000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts midfielder Peter Haring has hit back at journalists who picked Inverness CT to win the Scottish Cup semi-final clash at Hampden.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907611.1555328046!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Haring during Hearts' 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Inverness CT. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

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The Jambos went into the match as heavy favourites seeing as they were playing in a league above their opponents and had already beaten them 5-0 this season. They were able to further prove that superiority with a 3-0 victory to book a meeting with Celtic at the end of May.

Many football pundits had backed Inverness CT to cause an upset with Hearts having struggled to get past another Championship side, Partick Thistle, in the previous round.

They were also going into the match with just three victories in their previous ten games and an Edinburgh derby defeat to Hibs.

Haring, though, believes it was foolish to have expected anything other than a Hearts win.

He said: “Last week was tough. Of course we lost the derby but I don’t think we deserved it so it was even harder for us.

“Before the game I read some papers and a lot of ‘experts’ were expecting Inverness to win so I was wondering why? Why do you expect Inverness to win?

“With all due respect to them they are doing quite well but we are still Heart of Midlothian. All of our players and all of our staff knew we would be the better team.

“We are the bigger club and we had to get through the semi-final. It feels really good.”

READ MORE - ‘It’s effectively a free hit’: Journalists’ predictions for Hearts v Inverness CT

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907611.1555328046!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907611.1555328046!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Peter Haring during Hearts' 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Inverness CT. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Haring during Hearts' 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final win over Inverness CT. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907611.1555328046!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5982164859001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-captain-christophe-berra-made-sure-uche-ikpeazu-was-in-right-place-at-right-time-for-first-goal-1-4907210","id":"1.4907210","articleHeadline": "Hearts captain Christophe Berra made sure Uche Ikpeazu was in right place at right time for first goal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555306200000 ,"articleLead": "

Christophe Berra explained how he helped ensure Uche Ikpeazu was in the right place at the right time as Hearts once again cashed in on their set-piece expertise.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907209.1555256262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Uche Ikpeazu and Christophe Berra are all smiles after Hearts' Hampden triumph over Inverness. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

After a goalless first half in Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hearts broke the deadlock four minutes after the restart following another pre-planned move from assistant coach Austin MacPhee’s training-ground repertoire.

Jake Mulraney swiftly drifted off his marker to find space on the right of the penalty area and receive a corner from Olly Lee before driving the ball goalwards. When it was blocked on the line by Liam Polworth, Ikpeazu was perfectly placed to fire home the rebound from inside the six-yard box – but only after being cajoled into position by his captain.

“It’s well documented that we work on set-pieces and one of them worked well for our first goal,” Berra told the Evening News.

“It was one we had planned. Initially Uche was in the wrong place so I had to tell him where to go because I end up babysitting him at set-pieces. He probably wouldn’t have scored if he’d stayed where he was initially so I’ll take a bit of the credit for that one! I was having banter with him about it – every set-piece I’m like ‘Uche, come on – you’re not supposed to be there’.

“He got there in the end and it was a great finish. His overall play has been outstanding. 
We all know he can bully centre-backs, and he got his reward with that goal.”

That goal allowed Hearts to breathe easily after a goalless first half in which they had the majority of the possession but struggled to create any clear openings. Further goals from John Souttar and Sean Clare eased the Premiership side into the final.

“It was obviously very exciting but in the end it was pretty easy and we were in control so the adrenaline had died down by the end,” said Berra. “The longer the game goes on, it can get more difficult. But overall I felt we were in control. We were just missing that final ball to create something in the first half. But in the second half Olly Lee started us off in the right manner by getting a shot away and we were on the front foot from there.”

Berra is now relishing the prospect of leading Hearts out next month for what will be the first final of his career after he was an unused substitute when they defeated Gretna in the 2006 Scottish Cup final.

The 34-year-old is hoping they can go into the end-of-season showpiece buoyed by a strong finish to the league campaign.

“The reason I came back here was to get to cup finals and win cups, and we’ve got a great chance to do that,” said Berra. “We’ve still got five league games to go but it gives us something to look forward to at the end of the season, especially for the fans. We’ll sell out and the stadium will be packed. The atmosphere against Inverness was good considering it wasn’t full.

“But we’ve got to keep our foot on the pedal. We’ve got a massive game against Rangers on Saturday and then we’re away to Hibs the following weekend. We’re focused on winning as many games as we can between now and the end of the season.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907209.1555256262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907209.1555256262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Uche Ikpeazu and Christophe Berra are all smiles after Hearts' Hampden triumph over Inverness. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Uche Ikpeazu and Christophe Berra are all smiles after Hearts' Hampden triumph over Inverness. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907209.1555256262!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-michael-smith-glad-to-show-mettle-and-ease-pressure-on-craig-levein-1-4907218","id":"1.4907218","articleHeadline": "Hearts’ Michael Smith glad to show mettle and ease pressure on Craig Levein","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555306200000 ,"articleLead": "

At the end of a high-pressure week, Craig Levein and his Hearts players stood up and showed their mettle, significantly improving the vibe around the club in the process.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907217.1555258378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Michael Smith"} ,"articleBody": "

A cloud of negativity had engulfed Tynecastle in the week leading up to this must-win Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, with patience towards the manager wearing thin in the aftermath of a home defeat by Hibs which left them sixth in the Premiership and all but out of contention for a top-four spot.

When they were booed off at half-time by many of their 18,000 supporters after an uninspiring first half in which their Championship opponents had comfortably kept them at arm’s length, it would have been easy for Hearts to wilt after the break and leave themselves susceptible to the upset which many had forecast pre-match.

Instead, they came out after the break and asserted their authority, ultimately coasting into the final with goals by Uche Ikpeazu and John Souttar – both from Olly Lee corners – and a cool penalty from substitute Sean Clare after Ikpeazu had been fouled by goalkeeper Mark Ridgers. While leading 1-0, there were a couple of anxious moments for Hearts as Zdenek Zlamal had to spectacularly tip Joe Chalmers’ free-kick on to the crossbar and then Jamie McCart had an effort dubiously ruled out after the ball appeared to be played into his path by the impressive Hearts winger Jake Mulraney. Thereafter the match ended as smoothly as Levein and his players could reasonably have hoped.

“It’s been an up-and-down season but we’ve made sure we’re in the last game of the season,” said defender Michael Smith, who can now look forward to the first cup final of his career.

“The pressure was all on us. As players, you try and keep everything within the camp. You try not to read too many things. But we knew we were favourites and they would try and make things hard for us. They battled well in the first half and we weren’t as good as we should have been but in the second half we blew them away. We were fantastic throughout the team and scored three goals so we’re pleased.”

After seeing out the match in comfortable fashion, Levein embraced with his Inverness counterpart and former Hearts colleague John Robertson before making his way across the pitch with his players to take the acclaim of the Hearts fans who were packed along the north side of Hampden. The relief and delight of the manager was clear to see as the anger which greeted the final whistle at Tynecastle exactly a week previously was replaced by joy and excitement among a fanbase now dreaming of a fourth Scottish Cup triumph in 21 years. Although sections of the support are not so hot on Levein, the manager retains the emphatic backing of his players, and Smith was delighted they were able to bail him out in what was shaping up as his hour of need.

“The manager’s taken a lot of stick but he’s brilliant in terms of shrugging it off,” said Smith. “He just gets on with his job and doesn’t worry about what other people say about him. I’m delighted for him and for the rest of the players, the staff behind the scenes and the fans.

“We’re all massively behind the manager. He believes in us and we believe in him so hopefully we can repay him with a winner’s medal.”

Hearts are becoming accustomed to dealing with Scottish Cup semi-finals. This was the fifth time in six attempts they had won a last-four tie after seeing off Celtic in 2012, Hibs in 2006, Falkirk in 1998 and Aberdeen in 1996. Mercifully for Hearts, there was no repeat of those grisly semi-final defeats against Airdrieonians in both 1995 and 1992. The successful negotiation of Saturday’s tie means the gloom of recent months has subsided and been replaced with a fresh sense of optimism for what remains of a league campaign which started so promisingly before unravelling through the winter months.

“It’s been tough,” admitted Smith. “We started off the season really well and then we dropped off so the mood around the club hasn’t been great but now we’ve got to the cup final I’m sure the fans will be really looking forward to it and hopefully we can produce some good results between now and then.”

Just as it did in 2012, when Paulo Sergio’s team finished fifth in the league before crushing Hibs in the final, the Scottish Cup has given Hearts the opportunity to turn an ordinary campaign into a special one.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANTHONY BROWN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907217.1555258378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907217.1555258378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Michael Smith","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Michael Smith","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907217.1555258378!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/craig-levein-gives-update-on-steven-naismith-s-race-to-make-scottish-cup-final-1-4907214","id":"1.4907214","articleHeadline": "Craig Levein gives update on Steven Naismith’s race to make Scottish Cup final","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555306200000 ,"articleLead": "

Steven Naismith’s race to be fit for the Scottish Cup final looks set to go down to the wire.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907213.1555256549!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' John Souttar and Steven Naismith out on the park before the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final"} ,"articleBody": "

Hearts’ talisman has been sidelined with a knee injury since February and manager Craig Levein has no idea at this stage if he will be ready for the Hampden showdown with Celtic five weeks on Saturday. “I don’t know,” said Levein. “I could say he has a chance but the way I look at it is, if he’s fit, it will be a huge bonus for us. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket by saying he’s going to be fit.

“I’d rather expect him not to be fit. If I put the onus on him being fit and he isn’t, that would be a big disappointment.

“It’s about wanting to keep my head clear for all the games coming up, not constantly thinking: ‘I hope Naisy’s back next week, I hope he’s back next week, next week...’ It gives him something to aim for and he’ll be doing his best to make the final, for sure.”

Levein admits Hearts miss Naismith’s experience in the attacking department of the team. “He brings his understanding of the game to our team,” said the manager. “I’ve got players who I can rely on, like I rely on Naisy. Players like Christophe Berra, John Souttar, Arnaud Djoum, Peter Haring and Michael Smith. Naisy was probably more important because he was at the front end of the team.

“Without him there, we’ve got Steven MacLean, who is obviously 36, nearly 37. We don’t have that person in the front line who keeps everybody calm and makes good decisions. So I’m then relying on Uche (Ikpeazu), who is a real handful, but, again, he doesn’t have that experience or knowledge that Steven Naismith has.

“Or there’s the likes of Jake Mulraney, a fantastic player who was great against Inverness but he doesn’t have that knowledge, experience and calmness that Steven brings to the team.

“So we miss him for his football and we miss him because of the other things he brings to the team.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907213.1555256549!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907213.1555256549!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts' John Souttar and Steven Naismith out on the park before the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts' John Souttar and Steven Naismith out on the park before the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907213.1555256549!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/zdenek-zlamal-i-want-to-become-hearts-scottish-cup-legend-like-rudi-skacel-1-4907237","id":"1.4907237","articleHeadline": "Zdenek Zlamal: I want to become Hearts Scottish Cup legend like Rudi Skacel","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555306200000 ,"articleLead": "

Zdenek Zlamal is desperate to emulate fellow Czech Rudi Skacel by becoming a Scottish Cup-winning Hearts legend.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907235.1555258778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Zdenek Zlamal impressed for Hearts against Inverness. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The goalkeeper is well aware that his countryman won the tournament twice in his two stints at Tynecastle, scoring in both the 2006 final against Gretna and the 2012 showpiece against Hibs.

Now Zlamal wants to became the latest Czech to win a trophy with Hearts after he produced a spectacular save to help his team defeat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-0 in Saturday’s semi-final at Hampden to set up a mouthwatering showdown with Celtic in the final on Saturday, May 25.

“I know Rudi won it in 2006 but the game I remember is when Hearts beat Hibs 5-1 in 2012,” said Zlamal. “Everyone remembers that game. It was on the Czech news and I watched the highlights of the game on YouTube, so I know this is a massive competition for Hearts and we are very happy to be in the final. I watched the final and I heard all about the celebrations in Princes Street afterwards. I know everything about that final!

“Rudi Skacel is a hero and a lot of people in the Czech Republic know about his Scottish Cup wins and how prestigious this competition is. I hope I can do the same and be part of a Hearts team that wins the Scottish Cup. I know Rudi a little bit. I’ve met him a few times and said ‘hello’. But I know he still follows Hearts and supports the club. I have a very good friend, a goalkeeper called Milan Svenger, who plays alongside him for FK Pribram.”

Next month’s final will be the biggest game of 33-year-old Zlamal’s career to date. “Before this, my biggest game was back in the Czech Republic when I was playing for Sigma Olomouc against Sparta Prague in the Czech Cup final and we won 1-0,” he said.

“Every year they change the venue for the final and that year we played at Viktoria Plzen’s ground. That’s my biggest game but the cup over here is bigger. I also won the cup with Sparta Prague too but I did not play.”

Zlamal made a match-defining save in Saturday’s semi-final when he tipped Joe Chalmers’ goalbound free-kick on to the bar with Hearts leading 1-0. Inverness manager John Robertson, who was standing right in the line of the shot, described it afterwards as one of the best saves he’s seen this season.

“For a long time I did not have much to do but I had to be alert when they had the free-kick,” said Zlamal. “Luckily I managed to touch the ball onto the bar and stop the goal.”

This moment could be viewed as a form of redemption for Zlamal after he made a costly mistake the last time Hearts contested a semi-final. At Murrayfield in October, the Czech gifted Celtic their second goal of the Betfred Cup semi-final when he fumbled a tame shot into the path of James Forrest.

“It was tough for us losing 3-0 to Celtic at Murrayfield and it was tough for the fans as well,” said Zlamal. “It happens in football, sometimes you taste success and sometimes you don’t. That mistake was not in my mind. It was a long time ago and everyone makes mistakes. When you concede a goal it’s a mistake from the striker, midfielder, defender, but when a goalkeeper makes a mistake everyone sees it. But it’s a team game. It happened, it shouldn’t happen but now I’ve made a big save in a semi-final so that just shows you that football has its ups and downs.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907235.1555258778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907235.1555258778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Zdenek Zlamal impressed for Hearts against Inverness. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Zdenek Zlamal impressed for Hearts against Inverness. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907235.1555258778!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907236.1555258781!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907236.1555258781!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rudi Skacel won the Scottish Cup twice with Hearts. Pic: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rudi Skacel won the Scottish Cup twice with Hearts. Pic: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907236.1555258781!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/craig-levein-hearts-lifting-scottish-cup-will-vindicate-work-done-after-administration-1-4907239","id":"1.4907239","articleHeadline": "Craig Levein: Hearts lifting Scottish Cup will vindicate work done after administration","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555306200000 ,"articleLead": "

Craig Levein is hoping Hearts can prove they’re a club on the march by winning their first major trophy since emerging from administration almost five years ago.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907238.1555260863!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts manager Craig Levein celebrates at full time on Saturday"} ,"articleBody": "

The 54-year-old returned to Tynecastle in 2014 to lead the club’s post-relegation resurgence as director of football, and has also spent the bulk of the past two seasons as manager.

After a bright start to the new era in which a runaway Championship title triumph was followed by a third-place finish in the Premiership under Robbie Neilson, back-to-back mid-table finishes in the following two campaigns served to remove the wind from supporters’ sails and led to increased scrutiny on the football department. With Hearts looking likely to finish fifth or sixth this season, the current campaign is set to be defined by the outcome of next month’s Scottish Cup final.

Levein is adamant that Hearts are thriving as a result of the work undertaken to rebuild the infrastructure over the past five years, but the manager knows ultimately a football club is judged by its on-field feats. In that regard, he is desperate for some silverware to vindicate the progress he feels is being made.

“All I want for this club is the best,” he told Hearts TV. “I’ve spent five years trying my damndest, working as hard as I can, to get everything on the football side of things in a good place. I feel that behind the scenes the football department is as well run as anything I’ve ever been involved in. The building blocks are in place for the future. For that to be seen sometimes, we need to do something on the park that shows that not only are things in the future going to be good, but things are going to be good now. And that’s what we need to do when it comes round to the final.”

Hearts showed their potential in the opening three months of the season when they surged clear at the top of the Premiership before being knocked badly off course by a wretched run amid high-profile injuries. After reaching their first cup final since 2013, Levein is adamant they are on the cusp of becoming a team to he reckoned with once more.

“I spoke in the lead-up to this game about where the club is now compared to five years ago and it’s incredible, the progress that’s been made,” he said in his post-match media briefing with newspaper journalists. “Most people tend to judge progress on what goes on out on the park and that isn’t always the best indicator. From the moment Ann Budge asked me to come back here she talked about long-term planning and getting the club to a place where we can regularly compete at the top end of the league and in cup finals. We’ve done well in that respect this year but the good thing for me is that underneath, everything’s working like clockwork and that the club’s on the up. As a result of that, the stuff out on the park will be right, I’m confident of that.”

Levein, who suffered a health scare last August and has come under pressure after seeing his team slip from top spot to sixth, is hoping to end a testing campaign with silverware in his hands.

“It’s been one of the more interesting seasons, for sure,” he said. “All I want is the best for the club. Simple as that. I’ve poured four-and-a-half years of my life, in this last period, in trying to build the club back up to where I think we can get to. Obviously there are moments in there that I feel proud of. And this will be another one. I’ve done a lot of things in football but to come back and win a cup with Hearts would be the best thing I’ve ever done.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907238.1555260863!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907238.1555260863!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hearts manager Craig Levein celebrates at full time on Saturday","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hearts manager Craig Levein celebrates at full time on Saturday","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907238.1555260863!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/hearts-celtic-final-confirmed-after-holders-defeat-aberdeen-1-4907185","id":"1.4907185","articleHeadline": "Hearts-Celtic final confirmed after holders defeat Aberdeen","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555253794000 ,"articleLead": "

Hearts will face Celtic in next month’s William Hill Scottish Cup final after the holders booked their spot in the Hampden showpiece with a 3-0 win over Aberdeen.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907184.1555253790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic's Odsonne Edouard scores to make it 2-0 against Aberdeen. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The Jambos had already secured their berth in the May 25 tie 24 hours earlier after defeating Inverness 3-0 and Neil Lennon’s men will be their opponents after an emphatic victory over the Dons.

Goals from James Forrest, Odsonne Edouard and Tom Rogic settled the other semi-final at Hampden, with Aberdeen reduced to nine men following red cards for Dom Ball and Lewis Ferguson.

It will be the first time that Hearts and Celtic have met in the Scottish Cup final since 1956, when a double from Ian Crawford and a goal from Alfie Conn gave the Tynecastle outfit a 3-1 triumph in front of an 132,840 crowd.

Former Hibs manager Lennon will be aiming to guide Celtic to a “treble treble”, while Hearts boss Craig Levein will hope to land the Capital club their first major trophy since defeating Hibs 5-1 in the 2012 Scottish Cup final.

Hearts have defeated Celtic this season when Kyle Lafferty scored the only goal in a 1-0 win at Tynecastle in August. However, Celtic have won the other two encounters in the league – a 5-0 win at Celtic Park and a 2-1 triumph at Tynecastle. The two teams are also due to meet on the final day of the league season in a match that will be a dress rehearsal six days before the final.

The Scottish Cup fonal on May 25 at Hampden Park will kick off at 3pm and will be screened live on BBC Scotland and Premier Sport. Ticket allocations and details will be announced in due course.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "MARK ATKINSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907184.1555253790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907184.1555253790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Celtic's Odsonne Edouard scores to make it 2-0 against Aberdeen. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic's Odsonne Edouard scores to make it 2-0 against Aberdeen. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907184.1555253790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}