‘Sore’ Craig Levein laments loss of Hearts ace Jamie Walker

Hearts playmaker Jamie Walker goes off with a hamstring injury during the defeat against Rangers. Pic: SNS
Hearts playmaker Jamie Walker goes off with a hamstring injury during the defeat against Rangers. Pic: SNS
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Craig Levein admitted Hearts feel sore after successive defeats against Hibs and Rangers, plus the fresh blow of losing Jamie Walker to injury.

The winger is expected to miss the next two matches after limping off with a hamstring strain early in the second half of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Rangers at BT Murrayfield.

Manager Levein now adds Walker’s name to those of Arnaud Djoum, Don Cowie, Prince Buaben and Ashley Smith-Brown on Hearts’ injury list.

He explained the torment of seeing important players sidelined and losing matches as a result. Rangers’ win at the home of Scottish rugby came just four days after Hearts lost the Edinburgh derby 1-0 to Hibs at Easter Road.

“It’s sore just now,” he told the Evening News. “I thought we played really well on Saturday in the first half, and even until Jamie went off. It was as simple as that.

“I can’t wait until we get players back to supplement the others and I’m feeling good about that happening. Losing Jamie is a blow for us because we don’t have anybody else like him.”

Hearts and Rangers were tied at 1-1 when Walker departed. “Once Jamie got injured it fell apart and I put it solely down to that. He is key in our system and we just didn’t have anybody else to put in to do the same thing,” said Levein.

“He’s got a hamstring problem. I don’t know the extent of it yet but he certainly won’t be available for the next couple of games. We’ll need to wait and see.”

Kyle Lafferty’s opening goal was cancelled out by the reinstated Kenny Miller minutes before half-time. Miller struck again before Josh Windass sealed victory for Rangers under interim head coach Graeme Murty.

“I was impressed with the way we worked in the first half and the shape we had. Our two strikers were causing Rangers problems. From that, I felt good about the second half,” said Levein, who started 16-year-old Harry Cochrane and 19-year-old Lewis Moore in midfield.

“It looked like it was a game too much for Harry. He did some good things but he got caught on the ball, which he hasn’t been doing in recent matches. I intended taking him off after an hour to shuffle the pack but, after losing Jamie, Lewis had worked hard and was exhausted.

“In the end, we ended up just going for it and putting four attacking players on to see if we could get back into the game. We didn’t manage to do it.”