Hearts manager Craig Levein hails on loan Manchester United defender’s debut in Hibs victory

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Hearts manager Craig Levein insists Demi Mitchell can be proud of his debut performance after the on loan Manchester United defender shone in Sunday’s derby win over Hibs.

In only his second ever competitive outing, the left-wing back was a stand-out in the hard-fought Scottish Cup fourth round 1-0 victory as the hosts earned bragging rights in the fixture for the first time in ten matches.

The 21-year-old, whose only other first team game came last May when he played for Jose Mourinho’s side in a victory over Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, was thrown straight into the side just over a week after joining on a deal until the end of the season

Former Scotland manager Levein concedes he did not know what he would get from the youngster but was delighted with how Mitchell came through the clash.

Levein, who watched Don Cowie score a late winner against Hibs, said: “I was really thrilled for him.

“He has played academy football in England for a long time, he’s played one competitive game for Manchester United.

“And throwing him into this kind of environment, the pitches are not like the academy pitches in England and it was a scrap for long spells – that was the part that pleased me most.

“I know he can play, he’s got pace and good delivery but his defending was first class.

“I felt good for him, he had a big smile on his face at the end and I think he loved the game.”

Levein also handed an immediate maiden appearance to Steven Naismith after the Norwich City forward joined on loan last Thursday and was thrilled with the Scotland internationalist’s contribution.

The Hearts boss believes the 31-year-old, who made his first outing since August, can also play his part in nurturing the hugely talented youngsters at Tynecastle, including 16-year-old midfielder Harry Cochrane.

Levein, whose side return to Premiership action at Hamilton on Wednesday evening, said: “The addition of Steven Naismith will help in respect of having another senior player who is serious about his football.

“He joined here recognising that part of the role was to help develop young players and he bought into that completely.

“He will help along with Christophe Berra, Aaron Hughes, Don Cowie in-particular.

“Those guys have been brilliant for me because they control the dressing room in the right way, Steven is another one of those.”

Cochrane’s composure amid a typically frantic derby belied his tender age and Levein was delighted with the teenager’s display

Levein added: “I thought the players were magnificent against Hibs.

“They did all the fighting and competing that you need to do to at least get a draw in the game, but the good thing for me was that any good play came about, I felt was ours.

“I thought Harry Cochrane controlled the midfield, for a 16-year-old to do that against a player of the quality of John McGinn was fantastic.”

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