Hearts boss plans to partner Uche Ikpeazu and David Vanecek in attack

Hearts manager Craig Levein will trial Uche Ikpeazu and David Vanecek together in attack to counteract the absence of top goalscorer Steven Naismith.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 10:30 pm
David Vanecek is yet to link up with Uche Ikpeazu in attack

Levein is seeking new combinations up front and partnering the imposing pair of Ikpeazu and Vanecek is high on his list of options.

He told the Evening News that both players need to work on their relationship but, with Naismith out for eight to ten weeks awaiting knee surgery, they are in his thoughts. It remains to be seen if they play together at some point against Dundee at Dens Park today. Naismith will have an operation in London on Monday and Hearts will also be without teenage striker Aidan Keena today. Medical staff at Riccarton are investigating pain which may relate to hernia surgery he underwent last summer.

Hearts meet Dundee in the league today and travel to Hamilton next Saturday. In between is a crucial Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Partick Thistle at Tynecastle Park on Tuesday. Levein expects to pair 6ft 3in Ikpeazu and 6ft 4in Vanecek together at some point over the next week.

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“I’ve not played Uche and Vanecek yet. That’s something I’m considering from now on,” said the manager. “We’ll see how that pans out but we will need to do some work on it. I don’t think I’ve ever got back to the point where we were playing the same team we played earlier in the season. With the way we played, we haven’t really got back to that. With Naisy out, we aren’t going to get back to that point so I’ve got to try something different. We have been creating chances, we just haven’t been taking them recently. That’s my biggest gripe, not killing games off like we should. Naisy not playing doesn’t help that but we need to find other ways of scoring.”

Confirming Keena’s injury, Levein added: “He won’t be involved on Saturday. It’s something in that [hernia] area and he is toiling a little bit. We are looking at it. I don’t know whether it’s going to be a problem or not. He just felt it the other day.”