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<-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]
9 of 019 Mirsad Beslija 83 F A

Back trouble for Hearts


VALDAS IVANAUSKAS' quest for a new central defender intensified this morning after the Lithuanian saw his Hearts side falter on the opening game of their Austrian tour.

The 1-1 draw with LASK Linz in Windischgarsten last night served mainly to exemplify defensive shortcomings in the wake of Andy Webster's bitter departure from the club, and Ivanauskas is urging majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov to furnish him with central defensive cover as quickly as possible.

Captain Steven Pressley had been complaining of stiffness in his chest during recent training sessions and was withdrawn at half-time against the Austrian second division side, leaving a makeshift central defence of Christophe Berra and Takis Fyssas for the second half.

Ivanauskas was disturbed by the overall performance, despite seeing record signing Mirsad Beslija open his Hearts scoring account by equalising Mario Muhlbauer's opener. "I am happy with a lot of players but with others I am unhappy. I won't say their names," said Ivanauskas.

"We need more conditioning and more fitness once the injuries clear up. I am waiting for that to happen. We have a lot of work to do yet. We have injury problems and that's why Takis played in the middle. We had no options and we now need options. A defender is now our priority, but we also need midfielders and strikers.

"It is possible that new players will be coming in the next few days, but I don't know their names at the moment."

Ivanauskas deployed Nerijus Barasa in an unfamiliar deep midfield role and saw the Lithuanian internationalist deliver a composed performance for the opening 45 minutes before he was replaced by Julien Brellier.

But although the head coach remained unimpressed by his players' display, he is content that there are other agendas which must take priority over results at this stage of pre-season.

"The result is not important, for me it is our fitness which is important," continued Ivanauskas. "This was our first proper game and it wasn't easy because we have only been back for two weeks.

"Barasa wasn't playing in his usual position. He can play as a holding midfielder, but he needs to be 100 per cent fit and he is not there yet. Hardly anyone is there yet."

Hearts take on the Slovakian side Spartak Trnava in the second of three games in Austria on Saturday. The match will again be played in Windischgarsten and goalkeeper Craig Gordon is doubtful due to the thigh knock which forced him to sit out the Linz match.

Taken from the Scotsman

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