Hearts have adjusted the width of BT Murrayfield’s pitch to ensure it mirrors Tynecastle. However, the length remains greater by around five metres due to the position of the goalposts.
Aberdeen visit the home of Scottish Rugby tomorrow for the first-ever domestic football match staged there. They hope to bring around 7000 travelling fans. The team won’t be able to train on the pitch before facing Hearts in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The Edinburgh club are training at BT Murrayfield today having lined the pitch with specific dimensions to ensure it resembles Tynecastle as much as possible. They will play three home games there over the next two months whilst the new main stand is completed at their Gorgie home.
“The width is the same as Tynecastle but, because of the positioning of the goalposts, the length of the pitch is five metres longer. The width is going to be the same but just longer at the ends,” explained manager Craig Levein, whose second stint in charge of Hearts begins against Aberdeen following his appointment last week.
Pittodrie players and staff will spend time at Murrayfield later this afternoon to get a feel for the surroundings before heading to a hotel overnight. They won’t be able to train on the surface but Levein doesn’t believe that gives Hearts any real advantage.
“They’re visiting the stadium later today so they will have seen it,” he said. “The pitch is excellent, and Aberdeen’s pitch will be excellent just now as well. I don’t really think there’s a great advantage. We’ll only have trained there once before the game so it’s nothing major.”
The first major decision facing Levein upon his return to the dugout is who to select in goal. Jon McLaughlin was signed last month after leaving Burton Albion and he is competing with Jack Hamilton for the position.
“I haven’t made that decision yet. There are a number of things I need to get a clear idea on: how the players are and what position they’re in physically. I haven’t made my mind up,” said Levein, who also has a dilemma at centre-back.
Aaron Hughes played twice for Northern Ireland during the international break as Michael O’Neill’s team beat San Marino and Czech Republic without losing a goal.
John Souttar and Christophe Berra have been Hearts’ established central defensive pairing since the start of the season, though.
“I’ve been thinking about the team selection for over a week now,” said Levein. “Sometimes having a team in your mind a week before a game is difficult. When you’ve got six players away on international duty, it’s doubly difficult.
“I have settled on the formation but I’m waiting to see who is all right after being on international duty. Then I can hone in on exactly who is going to play.”
Hearts have three players suffering from minor injuries ahead of the weekend. “We have a couple of niggly things,” added Levein. “Prince Buaben’s hamstring, Rory Currie’s groin is a bit tight and Jamie Brandon got a knock on the ankle. I wouldn’t say any of them are definitely out.”