Hearts not using injury list as excuse for midweek woes

Any discussion about Hearts’ exit from the Premier Sports Cup would not be credible without consideration of the lengthy injury list, which was debilitating not just because of the number of players on it but also the level of ability and experience they possess.

Hearts;' Andy Halliday (L) and Kilmarnock's Joe Wright in action during a Premier Sports Cup match at Tyneacescakst
Hearts;' Andy Halliday (L) and Kilmarnock's Joe Wright in action during a Premier Sports Cup match at Tyneacescakst

However, after going out of the tournament at such an early stage for the fifth time in seven seasons, midfielder Andy Halliday conceded that while injuries were a factor, they did not mitigate such a disappointing result.

“I’m not going to use that as an excuse, that’s where we want to be,” he said. “We want to try and compete in all the competitions we’re in. We said from the outset that we want to go deep in cup competitions so I don’t think there is any doubt that this is a disappointment. But it’s important we bounce back. We have a tough game at the weekend against Livingston and we need to recover properly because we’re light in numbers.

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“It’s unfortunate because one of the areas we looked to improve on was our depth. I thought we were quite light towards the tail end of last season but the manager and Joe Savage have done great with the players we brought in and I thought we had strengthened with what we’ve got.

“You can’t legislate for six, seven injuries over the space of the last two, three weeks, though.”

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There were several key players missing against Kilmarnock. Crag Halkett, Stephen Kingsley, Nat Atkinson and Jorge Grant could be fit for the weekend but it will be a much longer wait before they can welcome back Kye Rowles, Beni Baningime and Liam Boyce.

“Some of them aren’t great and they’re going to affect us as we’re losing key players, the likes of Halks, Kingsley and Boyce. It means you have to put a lot of trust into the manager because I think they’ve got it right since I’ve been at the football club.”

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As for the players, they have to prove their resilience and immediately switch their sights to the league and then European business.

“We’ve got a young group and I think it’s important the more experienced ones help them realise it’s a blip. We’ve got loads to play for. We’ve still got Europe, the league and the Scottish Cup.”