Hearts interim manager hopes tough love will bring out best in midfielder

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Hearts interim manager Austin MacPhee hopes showing Sean Clare tough love will get the best out of the midfielder.

MacPhee dropped the 23-year-old from his match day squad as Hearts collected their first Premiership home win at Tynecastle for the first time in seven months with a 5-2 victory over St Mirren on Saturday.

Former Sheffield Wednesday player Clare had come in for criticism from supporters amid a woeful start to the campaign that had left the Gorgie side joint bottom of the league prior to the weekend.

Clare even admitted last month that he had sought help from a sports psychologist after being booed off in the 3-2 home loss over Motherwell.

After watching Clare struggle for consistency in his performances this season, MacPhee hopes that giving the player a complete break at the weekend will benefit him in the long run.

He said: “There are lots of players at the club that I want to set about getting more out of, it was only the other day I was speaking to Glenn Whelan about how fantastic Sean Clare was for Sheffield Wednesday against Aston Villa when they went up against each other.

“It’s my job just now to make sure each player gets to a point where they’re playing at their maximum and occasionally you need to show them tough love.”

MacPhee, meanwhile, insists he has no qualms about Steven Naismith linking up with Scotland, despite his lack of first team action.

The experienced former Everton and Rangers striker made his first start in three months as he made a goal scoring contribution in Saturday’s victory over the Buddies.

Niggling injuries have restricted the 49-times capped Naismith to only five appearances this season but MacPhee insists joining up with the national team for the Euro qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan will be good for the 33-year-old.

MacPhee said: “I’ve got no concerns about Steven going away with Scotland. 

“I spoke to Steve Clarke and I think it’s a good thing for us that he’s away with Scotland and he’s playing. 

“The last thing that we need Steven to do is not play another game. 

“We need to get Steven back to where he was, scoring all the goals for Hearts. 

Scotland can help with that because he needs games of football, so I think it’s a good thing he’s going away next week.” 

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