Craig Levein explains why Ben Garuccio has been missing from Hearts squad

Hearts manager Craig Levein is preparing to leave first-team players in the stand more often as key figures return from injury.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 5:30 am
Ben Garuccio has not featured for Hearts recently

He explained that there is nothing to read into full-back Ben Garuccio missing the past two games, but conceded his squad will soon be so large that further omissions will be 
inevitable.

Strikers Uche Ikpeazu and Craig Wighton, plus midfielder Peter Haring should be back in action after injury in the next two weeks. That will mean Levein has the welcome problem of more than 25 first-team players to choose from.

He will attempt to keep everyone happy but acknowledged that he won’t be able to avoid leaving people out of matchday squads each week.

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Levein told the Evening News: “We get Peter back soon, we get Uche back soon, and there’s Craig as well. There are going to be other people who will be sitting in the stand, with people asking: ‘Why is he not playing?’

“That’s just going to be the way of it. I have to keep everybody onside and happy because we need them all to contribute. We can still get injuries and problems which will mean we need our squad.”

Garuccio was not part of the matchday 18 for the 2-1 defeat by Dundee or the 2-0 win against St Johnstone. However, Levein insisted that the Australian very much has a role to play during the second half of the campaign.

“Because we played with wing-backs against St Johnstone, I was more interested in having Demi Mitchell on the bench as back-up to Jake Mulraney – a more attacking-minded type of player.

“We ended up going to a back four in the second half but that wasn’t the intention. We just did that to counter St Johnstone.

“You can only pick seven subs. John Souttar has come back in, and I wanted to put an extra striker on the bench in David Vanecek. The way it worked out, Ben was one who was left out but he still has a big part to play here this season. He has done well for us.”