UNDER-FIRE Hearts manager Craig Levein has vowed to use the international break to put his players through a crash-course in defending.

Levein was seething after watching his sloppy side play out a 2-2 draw against Hamilton on Saturday, with the hosts blowing a lead twice in woefully soft fashion.

The capital club have also shipped three goals against Aberdeen and Celtic this term.

However, Levein is adamant tightening up his backline is a far less difficult task than creating a potent attack – and he fully intends to use the next fortnight wisely.

He said: “There is some consolation there that the defensive side is easier to fix than the attacking side. I can do something about that and take my frustration out on the training ground.

“We’ll get time to do some work on the training ground and I feel good about that. Sometimes when you have a problem, having an easy solution to it makes you feel much better than scratching your head. We can do lots of work.

“Even when you’re under pressure, the defending is still the easier thing to do. Essentially it was our defending that let us down on Saturday – two goals at home should be enough to win the game. We just didn’t do the basics properly.

“We need to do more work on the training ground with regards to keeping the ball out of the net.

If we can defend better then the confidence will come, I’m sure of that.”


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Hearts host Motherwell following the international hiatus as they bid to appease the increasingly restless natives at Tynecastle Park, with Levein conceding that their Gorgie home can be a daunting stage for his players when things are not going well.

He added: “To play here is not easy. When things are going well it’s fantastic but when things aren’t going well it’s very difficult to rise above and shine when other people are feeling a bit nervous.

“I sense that the supporters are just as frustrated, if not more so, than I am.”

Levein, however, was buoyed by the midfield contributions of Glenn Whelan, who claimed the sponsors’ man of the match award following a composed showing, and talented teenager Andy Irving.

He added: “On the plus side of things, I thought Andy Irving had another really good match, Glenn Whelan was good and we controlled the midfield in the first half in particular. We had some good moments of play.”

Meanwhile, Hearts expect Aaron Hickey and Aidy White to be fit for their home clash against Motherwell.

Hickey, who only turned 17 in June, dropped out of the Scotland under-19 squad to face Japan this week after it was decided that the youngster needed a period of rest after playing in seven senior games already this term.

White, meanwhile, was withdrawn in the second half of the Jambos’ draw against Accies after feeling a slight discomfort in his hamstring. However, it is understood that decision was precautionary and Hearts have no fears over his long-term fitness.