Craig Levein explains decision to substitute Hearts striker David Vanecek at half-time

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Hearts will continue showing patience with striker David Vanecek despite substituting him at half-time at Hamilton on Saturday.

Manager Craig Levein insisted the Czech forward should not be solely blamed for the defeat as he settles into Scottish football.

Hearts manager Craig Levein will give striker David Vanecek more opportunities

Hearts manager Craig Levein will give striker David Vanecek more opportunities

Vanecek has started four matches and appeared three times as a substitute since joining Hearts from FK Teplice two months ago. He was taken off after 34 minutes against Dundee in January and replaced again at the weekend.

Levein explained that the 28-year-old is fitter and showing gradual improvement, but the temptation to introduce Uche Ikpeazu’s aggression against Hamilton proved irresistible. Vanecek did hit the crossbar near the break but didn’t impose himself on the match as Hearts had hoped.

“We didn’t hold the ball up well enough. When it went forward, it came straight back down again,” Levein told the Evening News. “I don’t solely put the responsibility on David. I needed to see how he would perform in the system we were playing.

“I was hoping he might get a goal. He had a great chance just before half-time when he hit the crossbar. I decided I’d put Uche on for the second half to see if he could lift the tempo and lift the aggression we were playing with. He did that to an extent but I don’t think the team performance was good enough. It’s as simple as that.

“David has been doing a lot better recently and I wanted to give him an opportunity at the weekend.

“However, the way we started the match made it very difficult to get that spark we were looking for without putting Uche on in the second half.”