Craig Levein hails impact of Hearts' Ryotaro Meshino in Rangers draw but frets over Jake Mulraney injury
Craig Levein hailed Hearts’ display in claiming a point against Rangers but insists it will be of limited value if his players don’t maintain the same standards at Livingston next weekend.
Hearts produced a vibrant performance in their 1-1 draw with Rangers at Tynecastle, taking an early lead through Ryotaro Meshino before Alfredo Morelos levelled for the visitors.
Levein’s side remain just three points clear of the bottom of the Premiership table and next up face their first visit to the Tony Macaroni Arena since they were crushed 5-0 by Livingston last December.
"I'm pleased with today,” said Levein. “I’m a little bit irritated about the way we lost the goal at a set piece but the commitment, the effort and the competitive edge was there. It was very apparent we needed that.
“The test is now to find that every single week. There's no point doing it today then not doing ourselves justice next week.
"When we're favourites here and we have loads of the ball, we get a bit nervous. In these matches against Rangers and Celtic, also the games against Aberdeen and Hibs we’ve played well because it's more of a level competition.
“I feel that it was important today that we showed our supporters that we're fighting and desperate to do well, just as they are.”
Levein was gratified by the contribution of Japanese attacking midfielder Meshino, the on-loan Manchester City player having played for his country’s Olympic squad in Brazil during the international break.
"All credit to the wee fella,” said Levein. “We've got two international players in the side today at either end of the scale. Glenn Whelan was away with the Republic of Ireland playing two important matches. He's got 90 caps or whatever and is so used to coming back from international duty and just stepping in to a big match.
"When you’re young like Ryo is, it's hugely different. You go away and there's all the excitement, the traveling, he's playing against Brazil. I thought he tired but he did enough in the time he was on the field to contribute heavily, particularly with the goal. It wasn't an easy finish.”
Hearts will assess injuries suffered during the match by Aidy White and Jake Mulraney. Winger Mulraney’s ankle problem is causing Levein the greatest concern.
“He’s going for an x-ray,” said Levein. “It’s fairly swollen and it indicates there’s something wrong.”