Craig Levein reveals what he said to John Souttar at half-time of Edinburgh derby

Hearts boss Craig Levein has revealed that he asked the real John Souttar to show up during the half-time interval after the typically assured centre-back endured a sloppy opening 45 minutes at Easter Road.

Sunday, 28th April 2019, 4:39 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th April 2019, 4:45 pm
Craig Levein celebrates Hearts' equaliser.
Craig Levein celebrates Hearts' equaliser.

Three times in the period the Scottish internationalist played his team into trouble, while he was also guilty of allowing Hibs striker Florian Kamberi to get in behind him on the left of the penalty area.

Souttar heeded his manager's words as he put in a much more impressive shift after the break, including denying Marc McNulty with a last-ditch tackle when the striker looked certain to score.

Levein was pleased to see Souttar rebound from his initial showing and show the kind of mental toughness to help his side dig out a result as Uche Ikpeazu cancelled out the Hibs opener, scored after Christophe Berra inadvertently turned into his own net.

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Levein said: "I asked him at half-time if he had John Souttar's number. All credit to him, he came out in the second half and did the basics properly. He was really, really good in the second half.

"For me, that's one thing that younger players need to experience to learn. Sometimes you don't feel great when you're on the field in big matches and it's easy to succumb to the thought you are feeling ill or tired and that things are happening to you that you have no control over.

"He started the game poorly, things got worse for him, but he pulled himself together at half-time and got back to doing the things he does well. It's another lesson for John and he coped admirably."

Levein was also delighted for Ikpeazu to net after earlier giving away the penalty with a clumsy attempt to clear. McNulty missed the resulting spot kick.

Levein said: "I think he gets a fair degree of criticism because he is different. The way he plays is different from a lot of players.

"He is quite a strong character and he just keeps going. He has got belief in himself, which is really important. He thrives on scoring. He feels that's the thing he is always going to be judged on.

"I don't see it quite as simply as that, but it's good for him to get eight goals after missing a long period of the season through injury."

He added: "It was probably the most open Edinburgh derby I have been involved in for a while. It seemed to go end-to-end for almost the whole match.

"I feel good about coming from behind and getting a point."