Craig Levein still to decide on playing youngsters in derby

Craig Levein embraces Kyle Lafferty. Picture Ross Parker/SNS
Craig Levein embraces Kyle Lafferty. Picture Ross Parker/SNS
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Hearts boss Craig Levein has yet to decide whether he can trust his young players in the red-hot cauldron of an Edinburgh derby after three teenagers performed a key role in yesterday’s victory over St Johnstone.

Jamie Brandon started the match at left-back and would eventually be joined by his fellow academy graduates Harry Cochrane and Euan Henderson in the second half.

All three players put in positive displays in a match otherwise lacking them. Cochrane even managed to inadvertently chalk up an assist when his shot from distance was controlled and finished by Kyle Lafferty, via the aid of a deflection, for the only goal of the game.

It was an important three points for the home side at Murrayfield as they recorded back-to-back wins for the first time this season, setting them up nicely for Tuesday’s match with rivals Hibs.

Levein, though, is still unsure of whether to stick with the in-form youngsters under the lights at a sold-out Easter Road.

“I haven’t made up my mind about that. I really don’t know,” said the Hearts manager when asked if the young boys would be trusted. “I’ve deliberately not had any thoughts about the Hibs match because, having not beaten St Johnstone in eight games, the important thing was to win the match today to prove that when things are going against us, and facing tasks that have proved to be difficult in recent seasons, we can win the match.

“I was actually really chuffed with all the kids. Brandon had a slow start. Henderson came on, did a job, and Harry was really good.”

Barring the return of more experienced players from injury, Hearts supporters will certainly be calling for Cochrane to be included in the starting XI after the midfielder impressed enough in his 45 minutes to be granted one of the two man-of-the-match awards.

He replaced Prince Buaben and put in a more composed and polished performance than the player 13 years his senior.

“He’s really young, he’s really weak, he’s really inexperienced, but he’s a good player,” Levein said of Cochrane. “In all honesty, like most kids who get opportunities, if Arnaud Djoum was 100 per cent fit and Don Cowie was fit then he might not have played. Although he’s young, he’s probably the next best player we’ve got.”