Hearts interim head coach Jon Daly believes justice has been served after the Scottish Football Association rescinded striker Esmael Goncalves’ red card.
A fast track appeal hearing at Hampden Park yesterday cleared the Portuguese of any wrongdoing in the incident with Kilmarnock’s Kirk Broadfoot last Saturday, which saw both players sent off. Goncalves was facing a two-match ban for violent conduct as referee Stephen Finnie believed he elbowed Broadfoot in retaliation after the defender pulled his hair.
Daly said today that the dismissal was rightly cleared from Goncalves’ record. He is delighted to have the forward available for tomorrow’s visit to Ibrox given he has scored three goals in his last three Hearts games – including the winner at Rugby Park.
“I think it’s justified,” said Daly. “Having seen it back I don’t think he has retaliated. For me, retaliation is throwing your arm back with a bit of vengeance and malice, which I don’t think he has done. He has tried to push someone off as you would do if you were getting your hair pulled. Obviously, I am delighted. He has scored three in his last three games, he is a big player for the club. He is a player that we are looking to play tomorrow. He is a goalscorer and a handful up front so I am delighted he has got off. You’re having to look at certain teams with and without Esmael in it. Now that he is available, we’re good to go in terms of having a full squad to choose from.”
Goncalves will now be handed a key attacking role for Hearts against Rangers. “Positionally, I see him as a central player. I had a good chat with him about and I think that’s the position he prefers to play in,” continued Daly.
“I think he’s more of a handful through the middle and, as he showed last week, when he gets opportunities he is more than clinical. He puts his chances away and to have a player like that, someone who can score goals, that’s what you need.”
Daly joked that Goncalves has no intention of cutting his hair despite Broadfoot’s antics. “I think he does like his hair so I’m sure he will have it exactly the same at the weekend,” he smiled.
Hearts are eager to build momentum by winning in Glasgow after their 1-0 victory at Kilmarnock. “We’re going there to try and win the game,” said Daly. “I’ve played there for and against Rangers and it’s difficult but our players will be looking forward to it. Playing in front of large crowds is what you want to do when you become a footballer.”