Hearts manager Craig Levein: We are powerless to prevent collision injuries
Hearts manager Craig Levein insists the club have done everything to avoid injuries but are powerless to stop collisions like the one involving Craig Halkett at St Mirren.
The defender is likely to miss months of football with suspected medial ligament damage after being forced off in the first half of Saturday’s 0-0 draw in Paisley.
He went in for a challenge with St Mirren’s Kyle Magennis and hurt his knee before trudging off on 25 minutes.
Hearts conducted an extensive investigation last season after a horrible run of injuries, but it did not produce anything conclusive. They checked everything from training methods to the firmness of training pitches at Riccarton and all results were normal.
Levein outlined his frustration to the Evening News today and stressed he cannot pinpoint why so many problems are occurring. Steven Naismith, John Souttar, Peter Haring, Jamie Walker, Conor Washington, Ben Garuccio, Craig Wighton and Euan Henderson are all recovering from injury right now, with Halkett and French midfielder Loic Damour added to the list after the trip to Paisley.
“We did an investigation last season. It showed up nothing,” said Levein. “When you get injuries through collisions in matches, there is nothing you can do about that. Nothing. Craig has made the challenge on Saturday, he was caught on the outside of his knee, his studs were probably in the turf at the time, so it has opened up the knee joint and damaged the ligament.
“I’m not going to say to the players not to tackle. John Souttar landed awkwardly after a header. Jamie Walker was making a tackle when he got hurt. Conor Washington overstretched trying to pull the ball down in a game.
“There is generally a reason for muscle injuries. Loic felt something on Saturday after playing 120 minutes on Wednesday. He hasn’t played a lot of football in the last year so there was always the chance he might feel something. He felt his hamstring tight and came off. That’s not a major issue for us and I’m not worried about it at all.
“However, to get another serious injury, through a player just playing the game and doing his job, I really don’t know what is going on. We just need to dig in and get on with it.
“The biggest thing weighing on my mind just now is Halkett’s injury. He has been really good and I feel for him. He is in a rhythm, playing really well every week, scoring important goals, making important tackles and getting better on the ball.”
Halkett captained Hearts against St Mirren for the first time since arriving from Livingston during the summer. With club skipper Christophe Berra rested, he led the team out before his day ended in disaster.
Levein also lamented Hearts’ inability to break the deadlock and secure a third successive win after beating Hibs and Aberdeen. “I’m frustrated because I thought we were the better side. We dominated long spells of the match. We just couldn’t get that goal,” said the manager.
“I thought Ryo Meshino looked a bit jaded. The last couple of matches have taken a toll on him and he looked a bit heavy-legged and sluggish. Macca [Steven MacLean] is 37 now, he probably had our best chance. If we won it would have been the perfect week.
“There has been a remarkable change in the last week. St Mirren caused us very few problems and we were in control. Our supporters were really good, they were behind us and cheered us on for 90 minutes.”