JJ: Hearts needed big characters

JIM JEFFERIES reckons the run of three straight wins that have lifted Hearts into third spot in the SPL is partly down to the spirit that has returned to the dressing-room.

Throughout the time Jefferies and trusty lieutenant Billy Brown have worked together, they've had characters in their ranks, the likes of John Hughes at Berwick Rangers and Falkirk, for instance, and, first time around at Tynecastle, players such as Steve Fulton and Neil Pointon.

According to Jefferies, he saw no such figures when he returned to the club last January and decided that had to be addressed, the arrival of players like Kevin Kyle, Ryan Stevenson and Stephen Elliott, as well as the return of fans' favourite Rudi Skacel, having helped create an atmosphere at both Riccarton and Tynecastle these days that is much more to the manager's liking.

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"Someone asked me recently what they felt the biggest change has been since I came back," said the Hearts boss. "On reflection, it was great coming in at the time we did as it let us assess everyone.

"And I never got the feeling there was a togetherness. Maybe I'm wrong but that's what I thought and that's why I've tried to put it right.

"The only way to do it is by getting everyone pulling together and it is great to see them working hard for each other.

"What has happened is that while one or two players have moved on we have replaced them with great characters.

"Big Kevin Kyle is great about the dressing-room, as is Rudi Skacel.

"Stephen Elliott is a popular lad. Ryan Stevenson is another great guy.

"You need that mix so that everyone else enjoys a good team spirit."

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