Hearts striker Steven MacLean admits the players are desperate to avoid the silent treatment from manager Craig levein ahead of the Scottish Cup final.
The former St Johnstone marksman, who lifted the trophy with Saints in 2014, has offered an insight into Levein’s management style as the squad jostle for starting berths, conceding he is unlikely to offer an explanation to any ‘hopeless’ players who find themselves dropped in the coming weeks.
MacLean acknowledges that the final two games of the Premiership, tonight’s clash at Aberdeen and next weekend’s trip to fellow finalists Celtic, are the last chance to impress ahead of the May 25 showdown.
There have been plenty of reasons for the former Scotland boss to tinker with his team amid a barren run of two wins from eleven league clashes, but MacLean is desperate to put his case forward for a start against the Hoops.
The 36-year-old said: “Talking from personal experience, I think if he is leaving you out and you’ve been very good the week before he’ll speak to you but if you’ve been hopeless he just leaves you out.
“Some players maybe need an arm around them and some players maybe need a rocket.
“If you’re playing in a game and haven’t been great you don’t really deserve an excuse. That’s my personal opinion.
“If you deserve an excuse he’ll give you one but if you have been hopeless or not played to the ability you can do then he just leaves you to mull it over.”
MacLean, who has scored seven goals in 33 appearances this season, added: “You can say there will be certain starters in the final but I think the manager is clever enough to realise that if somebody is not doing their job he would leave them out.
“There is nothing guaranteed in football and if you don’t go about your business the right way you won’t get your rewards.
“You look at Connor Smith coming in (against Hibs), he’s not scared to throw a young lad in.
“Personally, I’m playing for a cup final place and I think other boys will be similar.”
MacLean has also dismissed any suggestions that the players are holding back in games over fears they could injure themselves ahead of the Hampden clash.
He added: “No, if you start thinking about that you’re not going to do yourself justice and you’ll end up playing yourself out of the team, so you just have to give it your all.
“If you go into a game and think you’ll get injured you’ll end up getting hurt. You have to go in at full tilt.
“We’re up against big Scott McKenna at Aberdeen and if you go in half-heated in a tackle you’re just going to get hurt.
“You have to go in full-hearted and see what happens.”