Hearts full-back Jamie Brandon has explained how Craig Levein warned him to tone down the aggressive side of his game after he was sent off against Celtic on his return from more than a year out injured.
Brandon, who impressed in Scotland Under-21s’ two games in Marbella where they drew with Mexico and narrowly lost to Sweden, was sidelined from December 2017 until his comeback earlier this month with a serious knee injury.
But Brandon was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Celtic’s Jeremy Toljan on his first start for Hearts on his return, and he revealed manager Levein had a few words of advice after the sending-off.
He said: “It’s something I need to learn from. Not to jump up and use my elbow. I think I was just being over-eager. I thought I could get to the ball, jumped stupidly and led with my arm. I need to learn from it. It was the second time I’ve been sent off. I think being out for as long as I was, I was maybe not judging the game as well as when I was playing before the injury.
“It’s about getting back into the swing of things, managing the 90 minutes and, hopefully, get through and not get sent off again.
“The manager spoke to me and said he thought it was stupid, but he wouldn’t hold it against me and to learn from it.”
The right-back has done remarkably well to recover from his injury and admits he owes a lot to his Tynecastle team-mates. He said: “The injury was really disappointing. I went and played an U20 match to get some game time to keep me match sharp. I got into an awkward situation and ruptured my ACL and tore my meniscus. Steven Naismith and Steven MacLean were a big help for me because both of them have done their cruciates when they were young as well.
“They talked me through it and told me there would be days when I would feel like I was staying in the same place and not progressing.
“Now I’m always doing stuff before I go out to train or play in matches. I make sure I prepare right, so other injuries don’t happen. I want to be on the pitch for as long as I can.
“I think going through the injury has made me more professional and it’s made me think about things more.”
Brandon was thrilled to be a member of Scot Gemmill’s new-look U21 squad, who begin their qualifying campaign in September.
He said: “I just feel really tired to be honest after the games.
“I’ve played 90 minutes a couple of times with the Hearts reserves, but not at first-team or an elite level of football for a long time.
“So it’s really good to get that under the belt and I enjoyed it. I slept well after the games.
“I’m really happy to get the games under my belt and I am looking forward to getting more cap and playing more games.”