Craig Levein today paid tribute to Hearts defender Clevid Dikamona’s rapid powers of recovery after his colossal Edinburgh derby display.
Expected to be out with a thigh injury until after the winter break, the 28-year-old made a surprise appearance in Hearts’ 1-0 win at Easter Road.
Levein admitted he never expected the Congolese to be fit. He limped off with a muscle problem against Livingston earlier this month and was told he would be sidelined for several weeks.
However, the manager revealed that Dikamona’s own determination, plus the diligence of Hearts’ medical staff, ensured his availability to face Hibs.
The centre-back was clearly toiling towards the end of the match but limped on to help his team record a memorable victory against their Edinburgh rivals.
“A lot of people outside the club talk a lot of nonsense about these injuries we have had,” said Levein. “Very few of them have been muscle injuries, but one of those that was a muscle injury was Clevid’s.
“I didn’t expect him to be fit for the derby. I really didn’t. He has worked really hard with our physio and the doctors, doing his best to get himself on the field. I thought Clevid was brilliant considering he wasn’t 100 per cent.”
The victory, courtesy of Olly Lee’s sensational 28th-minutes strike, puts the Tynecastle Park side seven points ahead of Hibs in the Ladbrokes Premiership table.
Levein also praised Peter Haring, the Austrian midfielder who has played through pain since October and will now undergo surgery for a hernia. He was substituted early in the second half at Easter Road.
“Peter is the same as Clevid,” said Levein. “He has been struggling with a hernia and our medical team have managed it very well to get him on the field for most matches. I think he just reached the end on Saturday and had to come off.”