BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS boss Craig Levein has hailed wing wizards Ben Garuccio and Callumn Morrison after the duo emerged as unlikely stars of the Jambos’ Betfred Cup campaign.
Garuccio, a summer signing from Adelaide United, notched his first goal for the capital club on Sunday when he curled home a sensational free-kick in the 5-0 demolition of Inverness.
The Australian ace also provided an inch-perfect assist for Uche Ikpeazu – and Levein is adamant that came as no surprise after crunching the numbers regarding his deadly deliveries.
The 19-year-old had played just an hour of senior football for Hearts prior to the start of this season – being farmed out on loan to Stirling Albion and Brechin City last term – yet has cemented his place at right wing-back.
The tireless teenager was a constant threat against the Caley Jags, teeing up one of Steven Naismith’s two goals, and Levein reckons the pair are a dream for attackers seeking to get on the end of crosses.
“I thought the quality of our finishing, and crossing, in particular, was excellent on Sunday,” lauded Levein. “It’s easy to say it after we’ve scored goals from crosses, but it is something we have worked on.
“Ben [Garuccio] was brought in due to the quality of his crossing, which was statistically very impressive, and we saw that ability.
“Callumn Morrison has done exceptionally well this pre-season and I thought they were both fantastic with their quality of box that went into the box.
“Callumn runs on extra-energy batteries! He just keeps going and going and going. He has so much energy and what has always been good about his game is his willingness to cross the ball with both feet. He did that well again on Sunday.
“That quality gives the midfielders and the strikers the energy to make up ground and get into the penalty box when they know that sort of service is coming in.”
The only downside of Hearts’ comprehensive triumph over the Highlanders, which teed up a last-16 clash against Dunfermline in the Betfred Cup, was a slight groin strain picked up by Garuccio.
Jambos medical chiefs will monitor his progress this week in the hope he will be fit to face Hamilton in the Premiership opener on Saturday.
Levein, meanwhile, has also reserved praise for Peter Haring, insisting the versatile Austrian has emerged as an immediate unsung hero.
Another one of their 14 close-season captures – coming in from SV Ried in his homeland – Haring has been deployed in defence and in the heart of midfield during the early weeks of the campaign, finding the net against Cowdenbeath and performing both roles with aplomb.
And while the likes of Garuccio, Morrison and Uche Ikpeazu are gaining plaudits for their showings, Levein was keen to see Haring get his dues.
“One hugely pleasing thing for me has been the emergence of Peter Haring as a very able midfield player, as well as a centre-back,” continued Levein. “He plays whole-heartedly, completes for every ball and has a bit of quality. He has been a real bonus for us.”