Hearts Craig Levein speaks on Rangers test and form at Tynecastle

Craig Levein is confident struggling Hearts are equipped to compete with league leaders Rangers on Sunday.

Thursday, 17th October 2019, 6:00 am
Hearts manager Craig Levein. Pic: SNS

The Ibrox side head to Tynecastle in buoyant mood after moving to the top of the Premiership with seven wins from eight matches so far. Hearts, by contrast, have won only one league game so far and sit just two points off the bottom.

Levein acknowledges it will be tough test, but, with Peter Haring and Uche Ikpeazu due to return to the side after injury, he is optimistic about his team’s prospects of earning a positive result.

“They’ve obviously got their tails up a bit just now because they’ve hit the top of the table,” he told the Evening News. “Invariably, when you come up against either of the Old Firm, they’re generally first or second in the league so it’s usually a similar test. It’s really important that we put in a good performance.

“It’s not going to be a game where we’ll have 65 per cent possession. Rangers are likely to have more possession than us but I think we’ve always got a real chance of taking something from the game at home.”

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Hearts haven’t won a league game at home since defeating Aberdeen 2-1 almost seven months ago. Levein is eager to see this situation improve.

“The home record recently has been in stark contrast to what it normally is so we’re trying to get back to where we were in recent seasons with regard to our defensive capabilities and also being able to score more goals than the opposition at home,” said the manager. “Having Pete and Uche back in the team makes me feel better. Even having those two in training this week has been good.”

Hearts are missing key centre-backs John Souttar and Craig Halkett until January but Levein explained that he has no plans to use midfielder Haring, who can play at the back, in defence to compensate. “I would never say never about anything when we’ve got injury problems but my intention is not to play Peter at centre-back on a regular basis,” he said. “Equally I don’t intend on playing Michael Smith at centre-back but sometimes it happens just through circumstances. I don’t see Pete as a regular centre-back for us though.”