Hearts have suffered another injury blow as yesterday’s match winner Uche Ikpeazu was taken off following a head knock and could now be ruled out of the midweek trip to Rangers, as well as next week’s Edinburgh derby clash at Tynecastle and the Scottish Cup semi final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
The 24-year-old striker, who missed out on the League Cup semi final with a foot injury, was key to his side collecting all three points against Aberdeen but looked to be out cold as he landed following a clash of heads and will now be assessed by medical staff before the club know when it will be safe for him to return to action.
“He is a bit dazed. I think he hit his head on the turf when he landed. Maybe there was a clash of heads as well,” said his manager Craig Levein, who indicated that the blow had left the match winner dazed and confused.
“He thinks he has scored a hat-trick. I told him he had scored a hat-trick so he is quite happy!”
But he conceded that losing his target man for any length of time would be a setback as they head into a vital run of fixtures.
“If he is out for the coming games it will be a concern for us. I thought his play was fantastic today under what I thought was a lot of provocation.
“The two centre backs, one of them was holding onto him and the other one would win the header. It happened I don’t know how many times in the match, all afternoon, really, and he showed great strength of character not to get involved. He just kept plugging away and plugging away.”
Rival boss, Derek McInnes, who was annoyed that his team had not maintained their first-half grip on the game after the interval, also spoke of the Hearts striker’s role in helping the Gorgie side close the gap on the Pittodrie men and force their way back into the chase for a European spot.
“Ikpeazu caused us more problems in the second half, never more so than the second goal. We were firmly in charge of the situation but allowed him to score from a long straight ball. It was good centre forward play but poor defending. He shouldn’t get the opportunity. The biggest thing for me is his honesty, he works extremely hard for the team. He chases lost causes, he never gives it up.
“But to lose that game from a winning position is disappointing.”
Having netted the winner, Ikpeazu celebrated with his manager, who said that it was a demonstration of just how much goals mean to his summer signing.
“He loves scoring goals. He has not scored for a while and I think that was important to him today, particularly to get the winner after really having a tough afternoon.”