Hearts striker Uche Ikpeazu reckons there will be no let up in Christophe Berra’s moaning – even though the club captain will be sidelined for six months.
The Tynecastle outfit face being without the influential defender until the final months of the campaign after the Scotland cap suffered a serious hamstring tear during last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Celtic.
Marksman Ikpeazu admits the loss of the 33-year-old is a huge blow to Craig Levein’s side but the former Cambridge United player believes the demanding Berra will continue to make his voice heard around their training base and on match days.
“That’s the thing about Christophe – he wants to improve players and he’s always getting on to us because he wants us to do better.
“He’s still around the place, though, which is important. Even though he’s not playing, he’s still playing a part off the pitch.
“It’s was sad about his injury. I’ve spoken to him and it’s just one of those things but he’ll come back stronger from this.
“He’s a good guy who works hard.
“He’s going to be a miss for us but we’ve got some great players here and we can definitely still do well and keep up the momentum without him.
“We’ve just got to keep winning for Christophe.”
Hearts are already facing up to the foreseeable future without Berra but Ikpeazu is keeping his fingers crossed the team will not be bidding farewell to Kyle Lafferty any time soon, even though Rangers have stepped up their interest in the marksman.
The Northern Ireland internationalist got off the mark with the only goal in last Saturday’s win over Celtic after scoring 19 last season and Ikpeazu insists the 30-year-old is another player who is a huge influence on and off the pitch.
Speaking ahead of today’s Betfred Cup second round tie at Dunfermline, he said: “Of course we’d like him to stay, he’s a good player and a good character as well.
“He’s done well for the club and he is doing well again this season.
“I don’t know what’s happening with all the speculation, I don’t deal with that, all I know is that he’s a good player and he’s good to have around the place.”
Ikpeazu provided the assist for Lafferty to volley home from the edge of the box against the Bhoys but concedes his team-mates think he got lucky.
He added: “Everyone said last week I didn’t pick out anyone – but I saw someone running out of the corner of my eye, I don’t know who it was, and I cut it back.
“To be fair it was a great finish and that’s what he can do.
“It shows we have an understanding there.”
Ikpeazu insists the noise created by over 19,000 fans at Tynecastle last week was the best he has experienced, and is now relishing playing in front of an impressive 5,000 strong away backing at East End Park this afternoon.
He added: “I heard we’ve sold out the away end, which is great, that’s what we need.
“The support that we’ve had so far has really helped the team kick on.
“It’s important for the team and for the club.
“I haven’t played in front of an away support that size so it’s going to be good. Hopefully we can go and get the result for the fans.
“Last week was great, the best atmosphere I have played in – it was amazing.
“That’s what you play football for, that’s what you work hard for, now it’s all about the next game.
“My mum and family were at the game and my cousins and friends all watched it on TV.
“It’s great exposure and it’s good because people can see you from all over the world.
“It was a great moment but we move onto the next game now.”