Hearts manager Daniel Stendel predicts Sean Clare and Andy Irving will get even better

Both players have been key men for Tynecastle team in recent weeks

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 6:05 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 7:34 am
Sean Clare and Andy Irving have progressed rapidly since Daniel Stendel joined Hearts

Hearts manager Daniel Stendel believes Andy Irving and Sean Clare can still improve further after rising to prominence in recent weeks.

Clare's move to right-back and Irving's return to midfield have helped the Edinburgh club build a five-game unbeaten run ahead of Wednesday's visit of Kilmarnock.

Both players are enjoying their most productive spells in maroon and Stendel is delighted with their progress. He feels there is even more to come over the months ahead.

Sign up to our Hearts newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"Sean and Andy are young in our squad but they have a lot of potential. We are trying to bring them to a new level," he explained. "Their level at the moment is good but I think both of them can be better. We can help them improve more."

Speaking specifically about Clare, who scored a vital late equaliser against St Johnstone on Saturday, Stendel added: "Sean has a lot of potential. I could see that when I came to the club. Every player on the pitch needs confidence to play his best football.

"It’s a little bit easier for him to come out into the offence position because without confidence it’s difficult to show you can play. But he’s scored two goals in four games now and Saturday was important for us.

"It was a nice goal but I am not only happy with his performance on Saturday. He can do so much more and he can improve more than the performance on Saturday. Better defending but he can give us more impact in the opposition half. It’s good that he scored the goal and stayed confident but it was not only all good from him."

Coaching staff have yet to decide for definite whether new signing from Schalke 04, Marcel Langer, will make his Hearts debut against Kilmarnock. "We will look after training," said Stendel. "We started this transfer very early and he has not trained so much before because he waited to come here.

"He trained on Saturday and Friday and we’ll look ahead of the game and decide. He is very intelligent in reading the game, he plays in the centre - that’s his main position. He has a good mentality and he can push the team with his style of play. I hope he can bring us what we want."

Weekend results took Hearts off the bottom of the Premiership on goal difference. They beat Rangers at Tynecastle Park prior to the weekend's 3-3 draw at McDiarmid Park. Now they welcome Kilmarnock to Gorgie for another episode in the fight for survival.

"On Sunday last week, we conceded after half-time then Rangers had two chances to score - but we came back. You cannot say the mentality is wrong, it’s good," said Stendel.

"We keep our confidence in these situations. On Saturday, after going behind 1-0 it was exactly the same behaviour but in the second half we need to keep the conference high for 90 minutes and to play our style for 90 minutes.

"Our playing in possession was not so great in the second half, we lost the ball too easy and had more situations to defend. We did not work as a team and this is what we need to do more. If we win or lose the ball - we do it all as a team."