Progress for Hearts

Ian Cathro has overseen significant change in his squad over the winter break but the Hearts head coach warned not to expect instant effects on the pitch.

After losing top goalscorer Callum Paterson to a serious knee injury before New Year, Cathro has allowed defenders Igor Rossi and Alim Ozturk and attacking players Robbie Muirhead and Tony Watt to move on along with Juanma, who was out on loan anyway.

Cathro has brought in French midfielder Malaury Martin and defenders Aaron Hughes, Lennard Sowah and Andraz Struna as well as getting some time to work with his players on the training ground.

But Cathro, who took four points from his first four matches in charge, said: “I think everything is going to be gradual.

“I have to say as well, obviously we all know we have not quite transferred the progress or good things on to the pitch, because we have not performed at the level we wanted to be at and in some cases should have been at. But there have been some good things.

“It wasn’t all negative up until the break and it won’t be all positive after the break.

“It’s an opportunity for us to take forward steps and incorporate new players, which is always a positive thing.

“We want to create a situation where there is competition and good options, if we need to change something we can change something. We needed to add to that and we needed to add guys with a little bit more experience of competing and fighting and winning.

“But I have to emphasise that, although it maybe wasn’t visible, good work has already taken place. What we need to do is go forward with that and make sure everyone else sees that.”

With Morocco left-back Faycal Rherras on African Nations Cup duty, along with Cameroon midfielder Arnaud Djoum, Cathro will have a new-look defence in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against Raith Rovers. And he warned his players to be fully aware they will be in a battle at Stark’s Park.

“The first clich√© I think I have said: it’s going to be a cup tie,” he said. “It will have that emotional part of it, especially at the start of the game.

“It’s important we recognise that and are as up for it as anyone else around the stadium. And following on from that, we want to play. We want to play well, we want to have the ball, we want to attack.”

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