Craig Levein explains why Christophe Berra may have to miss St Johnstone v Hearts
Hearts will consider resting captain Christophe Berra at St Johnstone after his early return from injury against Rangers.
Management at Riccarton are mindful of demanding too much too soon from the 33-year-old centre-back, whose comeback on Sunday ended four months out with a torn hamstring.
He will train with the rest of the Hearts first-team squad today before any decision is made for tomorrow’s trip to McDiarmid Park. Manager Craig Levein explained that he won’t risk Berra unnecessarily as he is integral to Hearts’ prospects for the remainder of the campaign.
“Getting Christophe back is a big plus,” Levein told the Evening News. “I don’t know if we can play him tomorrow, we will need to see how he is recovering from Sunday. It might be just taking too big a chance but I’m not sure. I’ll wait and see.”
Should Berra be left out for his own good, Clevid Dikamona would be the most obvious deputy to play beside Michael Smith in central defence.
The on-loan Burnley defender Jimmy Dunne is on crutches and out for six weeks with an ankle injury sustained in training last week.
Levein stressed he was satisfied with his players’ effort in the 2-1 defeat by Rangers. His main gripe was with the match officials because of several unpunished incidents. He is confident Hearts’ run of six games without victory will end sooner rather than later.
“I was happy with the players on Sunday. I thought we played the game in the right spirit and I think our supporters saw we were trying our hardest to win the game. I feel for them,” said Levein.
“It’s quite hard when you’re on a run like we are to change gear and get up to a different level. We did that on Sunday and, apart from circumstances I can’t control, I was really please with their performance. I feel the win is coming.
“I thought Michael Smith did well at centre-back, I was pleased with Sean Clare, Harry Cochrane got some game time and showed some good things, Godinho did well, so there were a lot of good things. The disappointment, of course, is that we didn’t take anything from the game.”