Hearts midfielder Olly Lee insists Hibs clash is tailor-made for Uche Ikpeazu


Hearts midfielder Olly Lee insists a blood and thunder Edinburgh derby will suit striker Uche Ikpeazu down to the ground.

Brawny forward Ikpeazu is set to face Hibs for the first time in today’s lunch-time showdown after sitting out the midweek defeat at Rangers with a head knock.

The 6ft 3in player has bullied opposition defences this season with his remarkable strength and Lee believes the former Cambridge United player will relish the physical battle of going up against their fierce city rivals.

Lee said: “I think Uche will love it. I have been giving him a bit of banter, saying: ‘You don’t like playing in the derbies, do you!’ He’s missed a few.

“He’s buzzing. He’s a big character in the dressing room and he’s looking forward to it and it will be good to have him out there with us.

“Is he made for this game? He’s made for a lot of games, to be honest. 

“He’s a big, powerful specimen and people can’t deal with him.

“Hopefully he will have another big performance and that will help us towards another three points.”

Opposition managers have criticised referees for not taking more action over Ikpeazu’s physicality but Lee is adamant that the 24-year-old has been getting the short end of the stick.

He added: “It’s what you get with different players with different physiques. 

“(Former (England striker) Peter Crouch used to get it as well.

“In my opinion Uche gets harsh treatment a lot of the time but he has to keep his head down and keep working hard like he did on Saturday against Aberdeen where he had a few decisions go against him.

“He managed to put it behind and score the winning goal which is the most important thing and that’s what you get remembered for.

“Sometimes you have to have a quick little word with him to make sure he keeps his head but it must be so hard, he gets kicked from pillar to post in every game.

“He takes it all in good spirit and the best way to show people is by scoring the winning goal and that’s what we try to keep in his head, that goals win games.

“He loves it, he thrives off it and he enjoys the love the fans have towards him so long may it continue.”