‘It’s about risk and reward,’ Craig Halkett admits Hearts’ attacking mentality puts pressure on backline

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CRAIG HALKETT concedes that Hearts’ gung-ho approach to survival is piling the pressure on their back-line.

However, the Jambos defender insists he is gradually adjusting to Daniel Stendel’s philosophy.

Hearts succumbed to a breathless 3-2 defeat against Kilmarnock on Wednesday night, hot on the heels of a similarly frenetic 3-3 draw at St Johnstone last weekend.

The German coach is unapologetically committed to offensive, pressing football with a perilously high-line and, as Killie exemplified, they can be dangerously open to counter-attacks.

Halkett accepts it is a risky strategy – and one which is particularly challenging for those left manning the barricades at the back – but he is committed to the game-plan.

“It’s a case of risk and reward,” accepted the former Rangers and Livingston star. “We are going to concede goals with the way we play, but it’s evident that we are creating a lot more chances.

“If we can just get that first goal in a game it’ll make it a hell of a lot easier for us.

“It’s different from what we played before at Hearts, and anything I have played before in previous years, but we are getting used to it.

“It is harder for defenders and we’ll have more one-on-one situations but, with me and John [Souttar], he is confident that we can go and deal with things. That is a bit of pressure on our shoulders but we are happy to take that on.”

While Halkett still takes pride in keeping things tight at the back, Stendel’s forward-thinking mentality has forced the Scotland hopeful to rethink what represents a successful day at the office.

“It’s nice to keep a clean sheet but if we know we are going to outscore the opposition and get three points, that’s all that matters,” he adds.

“As a defender, you will always do your best to keep goals to a minimum but if there are days when you concede two or three goals but can score three or four, so be it.”

The defeat in Gorgie – Hearts’ fourth successive reverse at home to Kilmarnock – send them back to the bottom of the Premiership, one point behind Hamilton and four points adrift of St Mirren, who sit in the guaranteed safety of 10th.

“First and foremost, you are disappointed with your own result, but then you take the other scores in and do see the teams above us picked up points,” he acknowledged. “However, at the present moment, we need to worry about ourselves and picking up as many points as we can.

“Hopefully, come the end of the season, those other results don’t matter.”

 
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