Craig Levein: Hearts will be better than last season

Craig Levein is excited about the season ahead
Craig Levein is excited about the season ahead
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Craig Levein is adamant Hearts will be a better team than they were last season as they bid to contend with a more competitive Ladbrokes Premiership in the upcoming campaign.

The director of football expects Brendan Rodgers’ arrival as Celtic manager and Rangers’ return to the top flight to make the league significantly stronger.

However, he believes his own club, who finished third last term, are making big strides of their own and will be able to meet the increased challenge, with more new signings expected to follow Conor Sammon, Faycal Rherras and Robbie Muirhead into Tynecastle.

“I’m delighted to see the league has been strengthened,” said Levein. “It’s going to be tougher this year. I think Brendan Rodgers coming is good for the league because it brings some outside interest. Rangers did well last year and they’ve made some signings already. I think for everybody it’s going to be a bit more exciting. It’ll probably be touch tougher than last season but I think we’ll be better than we were last season.

“We’re reluctant to get involved in setting targets, but, suffice to say, we’ll be better than last season and the logic behind that is that our young players are not so young any more. They’re getting older and more experienced. We’ve brought in some good players already and I feel that with the distinct possibility of more signings coming in, we’ll be stronger than last year. Whether that does for us, we’ll find out.”

• A young Hearts XI lost 2-0 to Gala Fairydean Rovers in the Alfie Conn Memorial Cup match at Netherdale on Saturday.

In a match staged in memory of Jambos legend Conn, who passed away in 2009, under-20s coach Jon Daly gave debuts to recent recruits Jamie Brandon, Alex Petkov and Harry Paton.

Hearts’ development team face Stenhousemuir in another friendly at Ochilview tomorrow (7.30pm kick-off).

Meanwhile, 18-year-old winger Lewis Moore, who made his first-team debut against St Johnstone in the last game of last season, has joined Cowdenbeath, managed by ex-Hearts coach Liam Fox, on a development loan.