BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS head coach Ian Cathro has revealed it would have been impossible for Pedro Caixinha to tap up Greek star Alexandros Tziolis – because he was in the room.
Tziolis, 32, sent tongues wagging when he was spotted entering Caixinha’s office following the Jambos’ 2-1 defeat on Sunday and was subsequently linked with a switch to the Glasgow giants when his contract expires this summer.
Caixinha coached the former Monaco, Siena and Werder Bremen man during their time together at Panathinaikos and the pair have remained firm friends since, nevertheless the Portuguese poured scorn on the reports.
And Cathro yesterday explained that he was present during the chat as the trio enjoyed a glass of wine in – and even had a pop at Caixinha’s choice of bottle.
“The story in itself would have been very awkward because I was in the room at the time,” smiled Cathro. “I was also drinking Portuguese wine with Pedro and Alex.
“So it would have been quite an awkward situation if that was true.
“I know they worked together before, it’s just a normal thing where you work around the world in different places you build and you leave friendships and it is always nice to catch up. That’s what they were doing and I got a glass of wine out of it as well.
“Was it a good glass of wine? I’ve had better Portuguese wine, you can let him know that!”
Meanwhile, Viktor Noring is set to retain his place between the sticks for tonight’s trip to face St Johnstone
The towering Swede made his full debut for the Jambos, 11 months after signing, at Ibrox and was responsible for the error which cost the capital club the game, blotting an otherwise impressive display by dropping a simple cross at the feet of Barrie McKay.
Nevertheless, Cathro has no fears regarding the 26-year-old’s character to recover from the mistake, and also believes a spell out of the limelight will prove beneficial for Jack Hamilton.
“Viktor is an experienced guy, a calm guy and a strong guy,” added Cathro. “I don’t have any concerns about how he deals with that. It was important he got the chance to show himself. He had been working well and professionally and now he has an opportunity.
“For Jack [Hamilton], it’s important to come away from things at times, it just gives you a little bit of space to reflect a little bit, have a breath and progress.
“It’s important we recognise that. As a young talented Scottish goalkeeper, we recognise the stage he is at and we support him. He’s a talented young man, and a very strong and resilient one as well.”
Hearts, seeking to improve a record of six wins from 24 matches under Cathro, travel to a venue that has brought nothing but disappointment in recent years, with their last league win at McDiarmid Park coming in 2010, when goals from Kevin Kyle and Ryan Stevenson secured a 2-0 win.
Cathro believes that woeful record is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy and has urged his players to ensure it ceases to be an albatross around their neck in future by claiming a win this evening.
“I’m aware of this record and I have no idea why it is,” said Cathro candidly. “I don’t see any major any reason why it’s the case. I think there probably is a point where even just that statistic starts to become a thing for people.
“But I don’t think it should be something that acts as a barrier to the level of player that should be in a Hearts shirt. It has become a bit of a thing, and it only stops being that when you go there and win.”