Hearts explain why Josh Ginnelly played striker and not Ben Woodburn or Armand Gnanduillet

Hearts today laid out their reasons for employing winger Josh Ginnelly as a central striker against Dundee United.

By Barry Anderson
Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 7:00 am
Josh Ginnelly impressed up front for Hearts against Dundee United on Saturday.
Josh Ginnelly impressed up front for Hearts against Dundee United on Saturday.

A decision was taken early last week to use the Englishman through the middle if top goalscorer Liam Boyce did not fully recover from an ongoing calf injury.

Ginnelly underwent specific preparatory work in training and was also shown videos of what Hearts coaching staff wanted from him. It paid off with an outstanding display in a resounding 5-2 victory.

Manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News that he did not want to deviate from the 3-4-3 formation and explained why he asked Ginnelly to lead the attack ahead of both Ben Woodburn and Armand Gnanduillet.

“The decision was whether we put Woodburn there or Ginnelly there. Ben has been doing well in pockets of space, Ginnelly gives you that pace to go in behind,” said Neilson.

“We didn't want to change the shape because we have been doing really well this season. Do we go with Armand and it's a physical battle against two players who are physical, experienced and know the game – Ryan Edwards and Charlie Mulgrew?

“Or do we got with somebody who we think will cause problems by darting in behind? Thankfully it worked out.

“The front three played quite narrow for us. When Gino plays as one of the No.10s he plays wide, when he plays as a striker he does it through the middle. It helps us to keep him in there.

“Lee McCulloch and Gordon Forrest did some work with him during the week. They went over some video to show what we need from him as one of the three forwards.”

Ginnelly’s pace and movement caused United problems all through the match, and he also claimed an assist with the cross for Alex Cochrane’s goal.

Woodburn scored his first two goals for Hearts in the match, with Stephen Kingsley and substitute Aaron McEneff also etching their names on the scoresheet. Gnanduillet replaced Ginnelly after 79 minutes.

Hearts are confident Boyce will be fit to face Motherwell a week on Saturday. If not, Ginnelly will be favourite to lead the forward line again.

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