London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2006-07--> All for 20060705
<-Page <-Team Wed 05 Jul 2006 Lask Linz 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Dietmar Drabek
[M Muhlbauer 62]
6 of 019 Mirsad Beslija 83 F A

Euro race for Paul


PAUL HARTLEY faces a race to be fit for Hearts' Champions League qualifiers as a persistent groin strain is refusing to respond to treatment at the club's training base in Austria.

The Scotland midfielder picked up the injury before last week's trip to France and it has prevented him from training thus far in Windischgarsten as Hearts' pre-season preparations intensify.

Head coach Valdas Ivanauskas has his players ahead of their fitness schedule as they build up to a Champions League second qualifying round meeting with either Belarussian title winners Shakhtyor Soligorsk or Bosnian champions Siroki Brijeg.

Hartley, though, is looking increasingly doubtful by the day.

"It's very, very bad news," conceded Ivanauskas today. "It's so difficult to say how long he will be out with these kind of injuries. We need Paul, the team needs Paul but we will not take a risk with him. If we take a chance he could then be out for a long time if he is not ready. It's not good news. I don't know how long he will be out as it is too early to say, but I have a bad feeling."

Hartley would be a key figure for Hearts as they embark upon a European campaign that was sealed by his decisive penalty against Aberdeen in May. However, he will not be excessively pushed in Austria and will miss this evening's friendly encounter with LASK Linz at the Stadion Windischgarsten.

Other expected absentees are Julien Brellier and Roman Bednar. Meanwhile, Neil McCann returned to training today after a three-month absence because of surgery on a damaged ankle although he remains around ten days away from a sufficient level of fitness. Bednar has encountered a thigh muscle problem and Brellier's Achilles is still troubling him from France.

Finnish striker Juho Makela will be granted the opportunity to return from obscurity and is likely to start.

Ivanauskas continued: "The plus point is Neil McCann has worked very hard and I hope that he can be ready for our last game here. Mirsad Beslija had a rib injury but he is much better, he has trained with us since we got here and I think he will be good for 30 or even 45 minutes tonight.

"I hope we get no more injuries. When we get back from Austria it is one week until the Osasuna game and two weeks till we play our first Champions League qualifier. I expect the players to be around 80 per cent ready when we get back to Edinburgh."

Hearts' new sporting director, Eduard Malofeev, will officially join the club in Austria within the next 24 hours. The 64-year-old Russian could even arrive in time to take in tonight's game, but he is expected to be with Ivanauskas by tomorrow at the latest.

"I am pleased he will be here soon," said the head coach. "He is very experienced and was a big name in the Soviet Union, where he won the title with Dinamo Minsk. His appointment is good for everybody. Getting such an experienced man can help us.

"I played against Dinamo Minsk many times as he was coach there for many years, but every time we played them their approach was different. Malofeev has new ideas that he can bring to Hearts."

Ivanauskas is still awaiting an answer from the South Korean international Ahn Jung-hwan concerning a possible move to Hearts and the head coach is confident that "one or two" trialists may arrive at the training camp before the scheduled return to Scotland next Thursday.

Taken from the Scotsman

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