Craig Levein hopes Olly Lee’s Edinburgh derby winner is the catalyst for the Hearts midfielder recapturing top form.
The manager explained that he had to leave the Englishman out of the team for tactical reasons recently but hopes to see him buoyed by his sumptuous goal at Easter Road. Lee’s 28th-minute effort from outside the penalty box secured a memorable win for Hearts at the home of their greatest rivals. It was the player’s first goal since September 26 and sent the Tynecastle club into the winter break on a high.
Lee found himself on the substitutes’ bench in recent weeks as Levein tried to find a winning formula amidst injuries to key players. He returned to the scoresheet against Hibs and, with new striker David Vanecek arriving and Uche Ikpeazu due to return from injury soon, Hearts hope Lee will flourish again.
“I’ve left Olly out at times and I explained the situation to him,” Levein told the Evening News.
“I said: ‘When it becomes a 50/50 second-ball match, you’re actually not that useful to us as you are when we have possession of the ball.’
“I’ve been playing other players at times in some of the matches recently, realising where we are and accepting that we maybe weren’t keeping the ball in the last third as often as we wanted.
“We then need to be a better second-ball team than we need to be a possession team because we couldn’t retain the ball in the final third.
“Olly has had to be patient but he’s been great. I chat to him regularly about it and I’m hopeful we will see him back to the performances he showed earlier in the season once we get Vanecek in and Uche back.”