Craig Levein plans to field all ten of his new signings when Hearts kick off their pre-season programme away to Arbroath tomorrow night.
As has become the norm for the club’s opening friendlies of recent summers, the entire team is likely to be changed at half-time so as many players as possible can get 45 minutes game time under their belts. Supporters travelling to Gayfield are likely to get their first sight of Zdenek Zlamal, Peter Haring, Ben Garuccio, Bobby Burns, Oliver Bozanic, Ryan Edwards, Olly Lee, Jake Mulraney, Steven MacLean and Uche Ikpeazu, while midfielder Ali Crawford is expected to make an appearance as he continues his trial period with the club following his departure from Hamilton Accies.
“We’ll play two different teams against Arbroath. We’ll probably change the whole team at half-time so everybody gets 45 minutes just to ease them back into it,” Levein told the Evening News. “All the new guys should be fit to play so I’d expect them all to play at some point. I would expect Ali to get a runout as well. He had a wee hamstring problem last week but he’s trained since then so he should be involved.”
After tomorrow’s match, Hearts have another two friendlies this weekend – away to Dumbarton on Saturday and then against Partick Thistle at Cowdenbeath’s Central Park the following day. Levein, who has plenty players to choose from after his recent transfer activity, will split his squad in two for those tests, with the stronger side facing the Jags – relegated from the Premiership at the end of last season – on Sunday.
“I’m planning to play two different teams – one on the Saturday, one on the Sunday,” he explained. “Of the two, I would imagine the one on the Sunday would be a bit stronger. I’m not 100 per cent certain of that, but that’s my idea at the moment because I would expect Partick to be stronger opposition than Dumbarton.”