Craig Levein gives verdict on Ryotaro Meshino’s Hearts impact so far and expectations for coming months
Hearts’ Japanese forward Ryotaro Meshino will become even better in the coming weeks as he learns more about Scottish football, according to manager Craig Levein.
The Manchester City loanee has been called up by Japan Under-22s for this month’s trip to Brazil after impressing since arriving in Edinburgh in August.
His repertoire of flicks, tricks and direct running have endeared him to Hearts supporters and he is again expected to be handed a key role for tomorrow’s Premiership match against Kilmarnock at Tynecastle Park.
Levein expects him to grow in stature as the season progresses. “He is very attack-minded. Teams are still trying to work him out and he is trying to work them out,” said the manager. “Those things take time but I’m really happy with his contribution so far. I think he will just get better the longer he is here.”
Meshino’s loan agreement runs until the end of the season, at which point he is obliged to return to City. “That’s a long time away and a lot can happen between now and then. I’m just looking at it in a positive light and he is going to get better,” added Levein.
“That’s my take on it having watched a lot of his footage from Japan and seen him in training. I feel there is a lot more to come from him once he gets settled in completely, understands our team and understand what he is playing against.”
Hearts are mindful of the 21-year-old being overworked after three demanding games inside six days last week. One of those went to extra-time and penalties against Aberdeen. “Ryo is a great boy and he is a bit different to what we have,” said Levein.
“Last week was a tough week for him. He is still understanding the game in Scotland and the frenetic football which is played here. Hibs and Aberdeen were two of the quickest and most aggressive matches we would play in.
“Those games would have been quite a change in culture in terms of the style of football and the demands. I felt he was a little bit tired against St Mirren last weekend. His touch was off a little bit, which is very unlike him from what I’ve seen so far. Hopefully we can get him back to feeling fresh and ready to go for tomorrow.”