Hearts’ Craig Levein explains why he won’t rush critical midfield signing

Hearts manager Craig Levein is looking at four midfielders. Pic: SNS
Hearts manager Craig Levein is looking at four midfielders. Pic: SNS
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Hearts manager Craig Levein won’t rush into recruiting a new holding midfielder as he wants to ensure he gets the right man for what is deemed an important position.

Peter Haring’s ongoing pelvic issue, which is expected to keep him out for another couple of months, allied to the departure of Arnaud Djoum and the likely exit of Olly Lee to England have left Levein short of senior options in central midfield, particularly defensively.

The manager, who dismissed a link with former Scotland midfielder James Morrison, is happy with the overall make-up of his squad at present, with Steven Naismith due to be added to the mix in the coming weeks.

He currently only plans to add a new midfield enforcer, but the presence of Harry Cochrane, Andy Irving and Olly Bozanic, who can all operate in a deep midfield role, means the manager feels able to take his time to ensure he gets the right man to deputise for the combative Haring.

“I have a number of people I’m looking at – four of them I think we’d be interested in – but I’ve not got to the stage yet of making any offers to anyone,” said Levein. “I just want to make sure we get the right person because it’s an important position for us. I want to take a bit of time and do a little bit of research to find out a bit more about them as people, as well as football players. There’s a bit of work to be done. I’m not in a hurry because I feel we’ve got adequate cover at the moment, but that can all change with a poor result, of course!”

Levein plans to make some changes to his team for tonight’s Betfred Cup match against Cowdenbeath at Central Park. Irving is suspended following his red card against Dundee United on Friday, so fellow teenager Cochrane is in contention for a start. Winger Jake Mulraney is likely to miss out due to a minor strain.

Levein, a former Cowdenbeath player and manager, is taking nothing for granted against the League Two side. “The pitch is tight,” he said. “It might be dry and quite bumpy, so if we don’t pass the ball quickly and accurately we could leave ourselves with a bit of work to do. They have started the group well. They beat East Fife at the weekend and any team that is coming off a victory is dangerous. It’s important that we do things properly and be professional about it.

“Players don’t intentionally be complacent. Sometimes it’s just a feeling, so we have to guard against that. If I feel that they’re feeling that way, then I give them a kick up the backside. We won’t be complacent, I’m sure. We will make some changes. It helps get some people up to speed. Jake had a wee hamstring problem the other night so I don’t want to risk him. There are maybe one or two others we will take out and put some replacements in, but I don’t feel that we will weaken the team in any way.”