Hearts are in safe hands with Austin MacPhee according to former dugout colleague

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Former St Mirren manager Danny Lennon insists Hearts are in safe hands with Austin MacPhee as the club’s assistant manager stands in for Craig Levein.

Having led training since Monday when manager Levein was admitted to hospital for an unforeseen health issue, MacPhee – along with first team coaches Jon Daly and Liam Fox – is set to be in charge of Saturday’s Premiership visit of the Buddies.

The Gorgie outfit will attempt to maintain their flawless start to the campaign having won their first three matches.

MacPhee

Lennon had MacPhee as part of his coaching staff at both Cowdenbeath and St Mirren and insists the 38-year-old, who is also involved with Michael O’Nell’s dugout team at Northern Ireland, will not let Hearts down.

He said: “Being in charge would not overawe him. He is a great reader of the game, if Craig isn’t there I know Austin and the coaching staff will probably have had discussions with him.

“I’m sure Craig will be trying to kick and head every ball from wherever he is and like everyone in Scottish football, I wish Craig a speedy recovery.

“I’ve no doubt he will have an impact on how they start but we know how quickly games can change and that’s what Austin is great at.

“I had the pleasure of working with Austin at Cowdenbeath and St Mirren and it’s great to see him at the highest level in Scotland with Northern Ireland.”

Clyde manager Lennon, who had MacPhee by his side when St Mirren team beat Hearts in the 2013 League Cup final, added: “For me, his football knowledge is outstanding and his coaching ability is very good.

“From the time I worked with him, that will certainly have improved from the level of football he’s been at.

“The big thing for me, he is a great analyst and he can certainly read the strengths and weaknesses of individual players and teams.

“The way that he is, his one-to-one coaching for the players concerned has always paid dividends.

“I’ve no qualms with the experience he has gained, he has been at the European Championships with Northern Ireland and been involved in World Cup qualifying campaigns – so he has vast experience.

“The big thing for me is the way he can speak to players, he’s maybe not that much older than the likes of your Christophe Berras, and he’s on the same wave length as them.

“Knowing Austin and the way he is, he is so calm and excellent at controlling his emotions – and that’s a great quality to have.”

Don’t panic

Lennon, meanwhile, has backed current St Mirren boss Alan Stubbs to lead the Paisley outfit to safety in their first campaign back in the top-flight, even though fans were left concerned by the manner of last weekend’s 2-0 loss to fellow newcomers Livingston.

He added: “Alan Stubbs has come back into management and getting to know what St Mirren Football Club is all about, that took me a good year to do that.

“Alan has got the experience but you have to get the feel of the club, it’s a fantastic club with a terrific fan base. Yes, they’re demanding and they want success.

“Following the success of last season with Jack Ross, they are now dining at the top table and that’s where everyone wants to be but it is a very competitive league.

“The thing for me is not to panic, let Alan and his coaching staff get their ideas across and I’ve no doubt they will start to come good.”

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