Esmael Goncalves: Hearts are a fitter team under Craig Levein

Esmael Goncalves admits Hearts were underprepared under Ian Cathro. Picture: SNS
Esmael Goncalves admits Hearts were underprepared under Ian Cathro. Picture: SNS
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Striker Esmael Goncalves has admitted Hearts have lacked fitness in the early stages of the season.

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A number of players at Tynecastle have hinted at a poor fitness regime under the watch of former head coach Ian Cathro, but that is all changing under the new management.

First Jon Daly and now Craig Levein have been quick to address the problem, and Goncalves suggested the lack of fitness may have been holding Hearts back.

He said: “All the players have said it, we are working more (now) because I think we were not fit enough, so we are working more on that now.”

When asked if he personally had felt underprepared, he added: “A little bit, all the players (did).

“Now we are working more, we can see a difference from before.

“Everybody wants to play, so if you want to play, you have to do what the manager says.”

Levein has wasted no time in shaking up the training schedule for his players, and the new focus has been welcomed by Portuguese forward Goncalves.

He said: “It’s been a different week, we have been working more physically and from Thursday and Friday we worked tactically, which is different but it has been good because I think we needed to work more physically.

“He has a different way of thinking about football, he likes the players to be fit and fight before everything, and then to play.”

Hearts travel to Hamilton on Saturday hoping to pick up their second win of what has been a turbulent season so far, and Goncalves recognises the importance of the fixture.

“It’s a game that we have to win and we will do everything we can to win,” he said.

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