Hearts manager Craig Levein is excited about the prospect of unleashing David Milinkovic on a more regular basis.
The Serbian winger has caught the eye in his three substitute outings since arriving at Tynecastle on a season-long loan from Genoa on transfer-deadline day. Against Partick Thistle on Saturday, the 23-year-old marked his latest lively display by delivering a fine in-swinging cross to set up Ross Callachan for a late equaliser.
Amid an arduous run of matches away from Tynecastle, when Hearts have been favouring variations of a 3-5-2 formation in order to be compact, dogged and hard to beat, Levein has used Milinkovic sparingly thus far while he gets himself acclimatised to Scottish football and increases his match sharpness.
The manager has been encouraged by the fleeting glimpses of quality he has seen from his new recruit so far, and is looking forward to seeing him flourish once Hearts are able to perform in more favourable circumstances. “I like David – he’s something different,” Levein told the Evening News. “We’re trying to get him bedded in gently. He’s a different type of player to what we’ve got. In terms of the system we’ve been using the last few games, there aren’t many positions for a player like him. On Saturday, to get him on the pitch and get him some game time, we changed the system. I thought he was good.
“It looks like something is going to happen when he receives the ball. He can definitely beat a man and he provided a quality cross for Ross to score. He’s a hard-working boy – he’ll get opportunities, for sure.”
Levein is relishing the prospect of returning to Tynecastle as he believes the long early-season run of matches on the road while the stadium is being redeveloped is preventing his hard-working side from generating any real momentum. Hearts face five more matches – two of which are home games to be played at Murrayfield – before they are scheduled to be back in Gorgie for the visit of Kilmarnock at the start of November.
“It’s difficult in away matches because you’re up against it and it’s difficult to build the confidence,” he explained. “When you’re constantly fighting away from home, you never get that opportunity to feel relaxed. You play you’re best football when you’re relaxed but we’ve not had that privilege. It’s been a fight, and we’ve had to do that to keep ourselves in a position where, when we get back to Tynecastle, we can really start motoring.”