Hearts boss delighted to have two first-choice keepers battling for gloves

Colin Doyle
Colin Doyle
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Craig Levein is delighted to have two senior goalkeepers vying for the Hearts No.1 slot after the recruitment of Irish internationalist Colin Doyle this week.

Zdenek Zlamal, the 32-year-old Czech, appeared destined to be the clear first choice when he arrived earlier this summer following the departures of Jon McLaughlin and Jack Hamilton.

However, the signing of 33-year-old Doyle, who has started each of Republic of Ireland’s last three matches, means Hearts now possess two experienced keepers intent on playing regularly.

“I am really thrilled with the signing of Colin,” said Levein.

“To have that competition for that position makes me feel really good.

“After signing Bobby (Zlamal), I was initially looking for a No 2 goalkeeper. Actually saying it makes me feel that that isn’t a proper thing. We now have two goalkeepers fighting for the No 1 spot which makes me feel much better than saying he’s the No 1 and he can just sit there.

“They are both experienced goalkeepers and they have both been in the same situation before.”

Zlamal, who made an impressive competitive debut in the 2-1 win over Cove Rangers in Wednesday, is currently in command of the gloves and will start against Raith Rovers at New Bayview today.

“Bobby is the man in possession right now because I thought he did well on Wednesday. I thought he was steady, calm and made a lot of good decisions.

“There is touch of eccentricity in there somewhere, but I quite like that.

“Colin has only really trained since yesterday. Bobby’s had most of the pre-season and he played other day. He’s fine and he will play against Raith, so we’ll see where it takes us.”

Steven Naismith is set to return to the squad today after serving a suspension against Cove but veteran striker Steven MacLean will be rested. Australian left-back Ben Garuccio will be among the substitutes after not being included in the squad for Wednesday’s trip north, but Harry Cochrane, Anthony McDonald and Don Cowie are all sidelined with minor injuries.

“Don’s had a calf strain,” said Levein.

“Him and Arnaud Djoum are training together. They’re both out running and are close to coming back.

Harry’s had one niggling problem after another and Anthony’s Achilles has been a bit tight – we might see them in the next two or three weeks.”