Hearts boss reveals thoughts on embryonic Uche Ikpeazu and David Vanecek partnership

Hearts manager Craig Levein will persevere with a strike partnership of Uche Ikpeazu and David Vanecek over the coming weeks. After trialling that pairing in Saturday’s win at Dens Park, Levein said coaching staff will work to help the pair improve their understanding.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 5:30 am
David Vanecek tries to break free from former Jambo Ryan McGowan

Sean Clare’s opportunistic goal on 13 minutes gave Hearts three Premiership points on Tayside ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Cup quarter-final replay at home to Partick Thistle.

Ikpeazu and Vanecek played up front together for the first time, with the Czech making a first appearance in the starting line-up for six weeks. His previous start, also against Dundee, ended after 34 minutes in January when he was substituted and later labelled “rubbish” by Levein.

He managed 67 minutes at Dens before being replaced by Craig Wighton. He looked quicker and more slender after arriving in January lacking in fitness. Hearts feel he and Ikpeazu could develop into a useful partnership with time. They linked up occasionally and will get more chances to play together.

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Uche Ikpeazu makes his presence felt at Dens Park

“They were rusty, definitely not a well-oiled machine. I certainly won’t give up on them, that’s for sure,” Levein told the Evening News. “You have to remember that was the longest David has been on the pitch for us up until now. He has to get used to the Scottish game. I think he thinks the game is much more about securing possession and playing passes than what we’re actually facing – which is just a scrap every time the ball goes in the air.

“You have to embrace those things and he’s getting better. He looks in good condition and he worked hard on Saturday.

“He didn’t get any opportunities unfortunately but those will come in time.”