Craig Levein: Hearts fans will see a different team against Hibs

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Craig Levein insists supporters will see a different Hearts team against Hibs despite the defeat against Rangers.

Michael Smith is pushing to return from injury and Uche Ikpeazu should be available, giving Hearts manager Levein cause for optimism following the 3-0 loss at Ibrox.

A dejected Bobby Burns leaves the pitch after Hearts were beaten 3-0 by Rangers on a difficult night for the Capital side at Ibrox

A dejected Bobby Burns leaves the pitch after Hearts were beaten 3-0 by Rangers on a difficult night for the Capital side at Ibrox

Jermain Defoe, Connor Goldson and Scott Arfield scored in a convincing win for the Glasgow side, with the visitors left lamenting aspects of their display. They were 2-0 down by the 21st minute and lost the third goal moments after half-time to end the match as a contest.

Levein stressed his players will be in a different mindset come the weekend when they prepare to host their Edinburgh neighbours at Tynecastle Park. Just one point separates Hearts and Hibs in the Ladbrokes Premiership table going into the derby.

“Absolutely, you will see a different team,” Levein told the Evening News. “I don’t have any doubt about that because it’s a different environment. We weren’t brave enough at Ibrox in a number of ways. We had a couple of good chances and Allan McGregor pulled off a good save from Christophe Berra.

“People can pick holes in it and say we were 2-0 down by then and needed to get the next goal. Instead, we conceded again. Us playing reasonably well in spells after that doesn’t really make me feel any better.

“Young Bobby Burns and Aidan Keena came on and gave us a lift, as did Olly Lee. They will be pushing to be involved at the weekend. We will get Michael Smith back as well, provided the rest of this week’s training goes well. So it will be a different team.”

Smith tore a thigh muscle in February’s Scottish Cup tie against Auchinleck Talbot and has been missing for two months. “He is back in full training now,” said Levein. “He started joining in on Monday.

“He has been doing a lot of running in the last couple of weeks and he’s quite a fit boy naturally. I’m hopeful he will be available but I need to make sure he is okay first. We don’t want to set him back because we want him for the rest of the games as well.”

The manager admitted he did not berate his players in the dressing-room. He was frustrated that they failed to hold the ball up with Ikpeazu missing due to a head knock.

“When the ball goes forward, it needs to stick,” he said. “I’m not having a go at Craig Wighton or Sean Clare who did play because that’s probably not their game. I didn’t read the riot act. There’s no point. I think I know why it happened and there’s no point. Saturday is more important than anything now.”