Craig Levein expects Hearts to be stronger after winter break

Craig Levein will soon be boosted by the return of John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu plus the arrival of David Vanecek
Craig Levein will soon be boosted by the return of John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu plus the arrival of David Vanecek
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Craig Levein expects Hearts to become even stronger after the winter break once David Vanecek, John Souttar and Uche Ikpeazu are all available.

The manager was encouraged by wins over Hamilton and Hibs prior to the shutdown and belives the above triumvirate will further boost his side.

Czech striker Vanecek arrives in Edinburgh this weekend ahead of Hearts’ winter training camp in Spain next week. He signed a pre-contract agreement last July to move to Tynecastle Park from FK Teplice in this transfer window.

Fellow forward Ikpeazu is recovering from foot surgery, while centre-back Souttar is close to returning after a hip operation. They are just a few weeks away from playing. All three players are expected to become major components of the Hearts team for the second half of the season.

After a difficult November and December, including a run of just one win in ten matches, there were signs of recovery against Hamilton and Hibs. Hearts are fifth in the Premiership, six points off the top, and Levein believes Vanecek, Souttar and Ikpeazu can only improve his side further.

“We’ve had a tough time and it was good to round the first part of the season off with a couple of victories. That keeps us in there pitching,” he told the Evening News. “Once we get Vanecek in, plus get John and Uche back up to full speed, then without a doubt we will be stronger than we are just now.

“It was just a matter of not falling too far behind before the break came. We were just trying to hang in there. All credit to the players. They have suffered a little bit recently with confidence issues but I thought they were really good in the last two games. Their focus was great.”