HEARTS manager Gary Locke believes Ryan Stevenson operates best behind a central striker, but admitted today that the player may be needed in a variety of positions over the coming weeks and months.
The 29-year-old has just returned from a torn medial ligament to bolster Locke’s attack. He started on the right of a three-man forward line in Hearts’ last match against St Mirren and, although Locke feels he is best suited to a deep-lying central role, Stevenson could find himself shunted around during the fight against relegation.
“I’d say his best position is probably just off a striker. I think that’s where he’s at his most dangerous,” Locke told the Evening News. “We haven’t got a lot of options up there. He was playing in a front three against St Mirren, which is a role he’s played before.
“Paulo Sergio played him there and he played there with Ayr United before. The good thing about Ryan is he’s capable of playing three or four positions. In terms of his experience and his body strength, that’s probably an area where we are a wee bit light. He could certainly give us a boost once we get him fully fit.
“Ryan is fine and is training well. The more time he can get on the training pitch and the more game time we can give him, then hopefully we’ll see the very best of him.
“Everybody has looked fresh this week after a wee bit of time off. I’m delighted with how we’ve trained.
“We’ve still got three boys to come back from Scotland Under-21s, plus Sam Nicholson and Gary Oliver don’t get back [from Scotland Under-19 duty] till tomorrow. In the main, everybody who is available is training.”