Hearts explain why they didn't appeal Alex Cochrane's red card against Celtic - plus injury progress for key pair

Tynecastle officials thought about contacting the SFA.
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Hearts decided not to appeal Alex Cochrane’s red card from last weekend’s Celtic’s match because they feared further punishment for the Englishman. Tynecastle officials did consider lodging an appeal with the Scottish Football Association, however they were concerned about Cochrane’s ban being increased.

He misses Saturday’s Premiership trip to St Mirren and the Edinburgh club’s visit to Rangers on Wednesday, May 24. Hearts disputed referee Nick Walsh’s decision, taken after a VAR review, to change Cochrane’s yellow card to a red after he pulled back the Celtic winger Daizen Maeda.

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Having seen Aberdeen midfielder Graeme Shinnie’s recent red card appeal deemed “frivolous” by an SFA appeals panel, who then increased his suspension from three games to four, Hearts chose not to take that risk with Cochrane.

“The process is why we don’t appeal it,” explained Steven Naismith, interim manager at Tynecastle. “There are previous cases that have come and gone and the consequences of them were part of the thinking. I wouldn’t want to take a risk. I would rather have him available than risking him missing more games.

“We took the view that if the league have a tool in place which is to help referees, they have looked at it and came to that conclusion. We didn’t want to go up against it. Circumstances is why we didn’t appeal it but we accept it and move on.”

Naismith is in charge of Hearts until the end of the season but already has a definite plan of how he wants to manage beyond that point. “I’ve not thought beyond that but I’ve got a plan of what I want to do, whether I’m the manager here or somewhere else, whenever that time comes,” he said.

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“I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated but it’s tough to think it’s only this short period. I know how football works. To get opportunities you need to react and be ready and take them. It’s like being a player and someone’s injured on a Friday and you’re a young player and you get an opportunity. That’s your chance. This is very similar.

Hearts defender Alex Cochrane queries his red card against Celtic with referee Nick Walsh.Hearts defender Alex Cochrane queries his red card against Celtic with referee Nick Walsh.
Hearts defender Alex Cochrane queries his red card against Celtic with referee Nick Walsh.

“From talking to the club at the time, there were general discussions about what happens in the summer and obviously I had a previous role [as B team coach]. At that moment, you don’t know if you’ll enjoy it or whether you’re ready or whether you think it could or couldn’t have gone any better. That will be the part, I’ll come to the end of the season and make the right call on it. But I’ve enjoyed every minute of it so far.”

Midfielder Beni Baningime and striker Liam Boyce are now in full training as they recover from cruciate ligament tears. Michael Smith is also doing full sessions after a hamstring complaint. “Beni and Boycie have been involved in training all week but it doesn’t change where they are,” said Naismith. “I’m very doubtful whether they will be involved [this season]. The chance of getting them on the pitch is limited. If there is space on the bench, maybe, but I’m not really thinking about them playing.

“Michael Smith trained on Thursday for the first time so maybe the weekend will come too quick. He is back on the grass so we will see how he goes next week.”