Craig Levein admits there is still plenty work to be done to get Hearts’ attackers up to speed.
The manager has an array of options in the front area of the pitch, but is eager to get them all the game time they need in order to hone their fitness and sharpness in time for the Premiership kick-off away to Aberdeen a fortnight tomorrow.
Conor Washington is the only attacker to have started both Betfred Cup games so far, with Uche Ikpeazu, Jamie Walker and Jake Mulraney starting against Dundee United a week last Friday and Anthony McDonald, Dario Zanatta and Steven MacLean starting against Cowdenbeath. Steven Naismith is still to be added to the group when he signs for the club in the coming weeks, while Aidan Keena is also in the mix and is set to get some game time in today’s closed-doors friendly against Cambridge United.
Washington and Walker haven’t played much over the past year, while Ikpeazu has had a disrupted pre-season following a knee injection earlier this summer. Levein is mindful of the need to get this particular trio into optimum condition as soon as possible.
“I’m trying to get everybody up to speed at some point,” he told the Evening News. “It’s hard trying to get all these attackers the game time they need. Anthony and Dario hadn’t played a lot so they started against Cowdenbeath.
“I’m quite comfortable with Macca (MacLean) and where he is because he’s had a good pre-season. He’s probably as advanced as anyone, but I need to get Walker and Washington up to speed. I also need to get Uche up to speed because he had an injection in his knee recently so he’s not done a lot of the hard work in pre-season. He was blowing a bit against Cowdenbeath.”