HEARTS will be without Kevin McHattie for their visit to league leaders Inverness tomorrow after the left-back’s appeal against a red card was turned down.
Manager Gary Locke already knew his captain Danny Wilson would be unavailable for the game because of suspension, and revealed yesterday that the centre-half would be fined by the club.
McHattie was sent off in the second half of last Saturday’s league match against Aberdeen, which Hearts won 2-1 despite being down to ten men. Wilson was red-carded in the Tynecastle tunnel after the match for remarks allegedly directed at Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.
Hearts could not appeal against the post-match disciplinary action meted out to their captain, but they decided to contest McHattie’s sending-off, believing the defender had made a fair challenge on Calvin Zola. Aberdeen equalised from the penalty awarded for that challenge, but substitute Jordan McGhee scored the winner for the home team two minutes from time. Jamie Walker had opened the scoring for Hearts in the first half.
“It’s another headache for me,” Locke said yesterday after hearing the McHattie verdict. “We appealed – I felt that he made a good challenge. But, obviously, they’ve stuck by the decision, which I accept and we move on.
“It’s going to be another difficult one, because Inverness have been fantastic. It’s going to be a really tough game and I’m minus two of my back four.”
Locke warned his squad at the start of the season that, being so few in number, they could not afford any needless bookings or dismissals. Wilson’s red card comes into that category, so the manager had little alternative but to impose a punishment on his captain.
“Danny has apologised to the players, which I fully expected him to do,” Locke explained. “That’s one of the reasons I made him captain. He’s a young lad, but he handles himself very well – but he let himself down after the game on Saturday. He made a poor remark and we’ll deal with that in-house.
“He’s been fantastic since the season started, so it’s a huge blow to lose him, and obviously we’ve lost Kevin as well – two huge losses to the team, because I think we’ve defended well since the season started. I laid down the law at the start of the season and said we can’t afford any stupid bookings and suspensions, so Danny will be fined in-house and hopefully we will learn from our mistakes.”
Meanwhile, Dylan McGowan has backed Jamie Hamill to brush off abuse after Raith Rovers defender Dougie Hill branding him a “cheat”, insisting his Hearts team-mate is accustomed to handling Twitter taunts.
The Stark’s Park stalwart took to the social networking site on Wednesday morning to slam his opponent’s conduct during a fiery cup clash in Kirkcaldy, accusing him of diving when the pair went head-to-head in the second half.
Hill was given his marching orders by referee Brian Colvin and, in a series of ill-tempered tweets, described Hamill as “embarrassing” and a “cheat”. Raith have since appealed the red card.
However, McGowan insists the 27-year-old has been oblivious to the furore.
McGowan said: “It was clear the abuse did not affect him during the game and I don’t think what anyone says on Twitter will affect him in the future.
“You can’t react to what people say on Twitter – and I think Jamie has had more stick than most on there.
“We all get it. You can’t log on to Twitter after a game without getting told you are the worst player in the world. You learn to take everything with a pinch of salt.”