CRAIG LEVEIN reckons Ryotaro Meshino is ready to make his mark in the Edinburgh derby – now that he has settled in Scotland.
The on-loan Manchester City winger was the only silver lining to come from Hearts’ miserable 3-2 defeat against Motherwell on Saturday, climbing from the bench to score his first goal for the club and tee up another for Uche Ikpeazu.
While the fixture will be remembered for the vociferous protests outside Tynecastle demanding Levein’s sacking, Meshino’s cameo was almost certainly enough to play his way into the starting line-up for Sunday’s clash against Hibernian.
He posted a video of his maiden goal in maroon accompanied by the caption: “We’re definitely going to win the next derby match with our supporters!!”
And Levein insists Meshino is benefitting from some home comforts and is in a position to become a star man for the Jambos.
He said: “It’s not just about Ryo’s fitness. I’m trying to give him time to settle and feel relaxed.
“He has had a lot of things happen to him over the last two or three weeks. But last week in training he was better than the previous week.
“He has had a good period now and has and apartment, a car, a UK phone – all these things that help you feel relaxed.
“I saw enough on Saturday to know that Ryo can help us now.
“The more he plays, trains and understands his teammates, then the better he will be. I was really pleased with his impact on Saturday.”
The fixture was his first taste of British football following his arrival from Gamba Osaka – and came just 24 hours after he put pen to paper on a loan switch.
Levein has held his hands up and confessed that – although injury forced him to replace Euan Henderson – he should not have thrown Meshino in at the deep end.
The former Scotland manager added: “I put him on during the [Hamilton] game two weeks ago and it was the wrong thing to do. He had been through all the travelling on Friday and all his press duties afterward. It wasn’t good for him.
“I didn’t want to then throw him into the second game straight from the start. He needs to feel good about playing here.
“He came on against Motherwell and made a difference so he’ll have gone home on Saturday night and, although disappointed the team didn’t win, knowing that he can make a difference to this team.
“That’s where I need Ryo to be.”