Craig Halkett interview: Struggling to control anger, Hearts' biggest game and Daniel Stendel's communication

Defender admits St Mirren match is massive but says he understands manager's instructions

Craig Halkett is frustrated by Hearts' predicament at the bottom of the league
Craig Halkett is frustrated by Hearts' predicament at the bottom of the league

Hearts defender Craig Halkett admits struggling to control his anger when goals are conceded. Nonetheless, he has no problem being used as a makeshift striker whenever a rescue mission is necessary.

Recent weeks have seen Halkett visibly annoyed at mistakes leading to cheap concessions as the frustration of Hearts' relegation fight becomes apparent.

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The 24-year-old is the club's top goalscorer with seven in all competitions so far this season having been shunted up front to score vital equalisers at times. The most recent example was last weekend, when he struck an 87th-minute leveller in the 2-2 draw with Hamilton.

Tonight sees the Edinburgh side tackle what the 24-year-old believes is the biggest game of their campaign at St Mirren, who are only three points better off in the Premiership table.

Halkett has been unable to hide his raw emotions watching goals go in lately and stressed his outbursts are not a dig at team-mates.

"It’s nothing personal against anyone making mistakes, it's just me getting angry at the situation we are in and disappointment at losing goals," he said.

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"I’d say that’s something I should work on because I shouldn’t really be showing that emotion on the pitch at the time. It’s hard because you are angry about getting beat and when things aren’t going well.

"When I signed [last summer] I didn’t expect to be in this situation but we’re in it and it’s up to ourselves and the players to get out of it.

"In the heat of the moment you have reactions but it’s nothing personal against whoever has made a mistake because I’ve been there myself - I’ve made the mistake."

He played as a striker during his youth before being converted into a central defender. Hearts have needed him in attack all too often since signing him from Livingston.

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"It would be nice to be winning the game before that point and I could do my job as a defender and keep the clean sheet. However, if I’m asked to go up front to try to get a goal, then I’m more than happy to do so," said Halkett.

"That's been our downfall in the last few weeks. We've been conceding an early goal and being behind by two, maybe even three. We're giving ourselves a mountain to climb. If we go and get that early goal then it can maybe change our luck a bit."

Tonight's fixture is the most important in Halkett's short time at Tynecastle Park. "I think so, just with where we're sitting in the league and everything else considered, it's massive," he explained. "We've been waiting for that one result to kick us on and we all hope it's going to be the one that'll do it."

Hearts captain Steven Naismith stated earlier this week that players have no problem with manager Daniel Stendel's methods or communication. Halkett reinforced that message.

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"The manager’s English is fine and I don’t have any problems understanding him at all. I’ve taken on board everything he wants me to do and I understand what he wants. All the players do.

"We all know how he wants to ply football and we work on that. We enjoy training every day and working on the things he is telling us. We always try to take that into the games. There’s been no problems on that front.

"We've been doing a lot of work on the training park on things. I don't think there's something that happens in the game we just forget what we've learned over the week. It's maybe just a lack of concentration or an individual error.

"With the first Hamilton goal, it was that bit of luck. The striker was down tying his lace. If he's not doing that, maybe he's up in line with everyone else and isn't in that position to score the goal.

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"It's wee things like this that are happening and are going against us at the moment. I can't put my finger on it and say it's that we're not taking the manager's instructions on board or we're not doing this or that."