Hearts hope Kyle Lafferty and Esmael Goncalves can fire up front

Kyle Lafferty, left, and Esmael Goncalves, right, have scored 14 goals between them at Hearts this season. Pic: SNS
Kyle Lafferty, left, and Esmael Goncalves, right, have scored 14 goals between them at Hearts this season. Pic: SNS
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Hearts are to continue nurturing the strike partnership between Kyle Lafferty and Esmael Goncalves as manager Craig Levein tries to improve the team’s attacking threat.

The Northern Irishman and his Portuguese colleague have scored 14 goals between them so far this season, having been paired together when Lafferty arrived at Tynecastle in the summer.

Levein feels there is more to come from both forwards. He intends to continue with a two-man attack and is hopeful that the understanding developing between Lafferty and Goncalves can develop further over the coming weeks.

Following last weekend’s disappointing 2-1 loss to Kilmarnock at BT Murrayfield, Hearts are due to return to the redeveloped Tynecastle Park a week tomorrow to face Partick Thistle. Goncalves scored against the Ayshire side and was twice denied by the frame of the goal.

“I’ve seen both Isma and Kyle have better games than they did last week but I thought they did enough for us to persevere with two up top,” said Levein, before hinting that his team must provide better service to the front line if they are to cause opponents more problems.

“Strikers aren’t going to be much use to you when you pass the ball back,” he continued.

“Isma and Kyle started off causing problems. I thought we used them really well in the first 15 minutes on Sunday and then we lost our way a little bit.

“We didn’t get the ball forward quickly enough or use the opportunities which arose to play the ball forward. We went back the way.”

Hearts will hope the improvement starts immediately as they embark upon a run which sees seven of their next eight games take place at Tynecastle in front of the new main stand. Several players, including Arnaud Djoum, could be back from injury next week, too.