Three things we learned from Celtic 2 - 1 Hearts
Neil McGlade assesses Hearts’ final day defeat to Celtic as Craig Levein’s men begin to set their sights on next weekend’s Scottish Cup Final.
On evidence of his performance today, Celtic can expect an arduous task in getting the better of goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal at Hampden on Saturday. Well, so Hearts fans canl hope. Aside from the opener that arrived in just the second minute, Zlamal made some key stops from Mikey Johnston and 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele and can count himself unlucky to have been on the losing side. Colin Doyle was given the nod in the 2-1 defeat at Aberdeen last week but there is little doubt Zlamal looks the more assured and deserves his place in the side that are tasked with bringing the Scottish Cup back to Gorgie for the first time in seven years.
Injury woes deepen?
Hearts already have the likes of Peter Haring, Arnaud Djoum and Uche Ikpeazu wrapped in cotton wool ahead of next weekend’s Scottish Cup final. It’s news that has rumbled on for weeks now. But are the aforementioned trio about to become a four or a five? Craig Levein admitted after the 2-1 reversal at Parkhead that Olly Lee is a major doubt after twisting his knee during the first half. The Hearts boss also revealed Michael Smith felt some tightness in his calves and John Souttar encountered a niggle in his groin. Although he fully expects the likes of Smith and Souttar to recover in time to take their place at Hampden, Levein will be on his knees praying this week’s final preparations don’t take another turn for the worse.
Kids can be trusted
Levein was expected to make a raft of changes for the final Premiership fixture of the season and that turned out to be the case. Although Celtic also named an unfamiliar starting XI by their standards, youngster Aaron Hickey, Andy Irving and Connor Smith didn’t appeared overwhelmed by the occasion of playing in front of 60,000. Yes, there will be a fraction less at Hampden next weekend and the magnitude of the game will be far more intense however, should Hearts key players not recover in time to start the match, Levein can at least draw some comfort that his teenagers won’t be afraid to put themselves about. Whether or not it’s a bridge too far only time will tell.
Sign up to our newsletter: enter your email in the box at the top of this article to get daily updates straight to your inbox.