Monday, August 15, 2022
SportCup CompetitionsHearts boss Daniel Stendel weighing up a change of goalkeeper amid struggles...

Hearts boss Daniel Stendel weighing up a change of goalkeeper amid struggles of Manchester United kid Joel Pereira

DANIEL STENDEL has confirmed he is weighing up whether to drop underperforming goalkeeper Joel Pereira for Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie at Falkirk.

However, the Jambos head coach is adamant any alteration would represent a case of standard rotation rather than an indictment of the Manchester United youngster’s errant displays.

Zdenek Zlamal could come in to the side for the fifth round tie against the Bairns, taking Pereira out of the line of fire following his woeful attempt to stop Kilmarnock’s third – and ultimately decisive – goal in Wednesday night’s 3-2 defeat.

It should be noted that Stendel did not alter his goalkeeper in the previous round, with Pereira playing in Hearts’ 5-0 demolition of Airdrie in January.

“Normally I’d do it [change goalkeeper] in the cup,” said Stendel. “It’s a special situation at the moment and we’ll decide together with [goalkeeping coach] Paul Gallacher. He knows the goalkeepers better than I do.

“He trains with them every day and we’ll make the decision together.

“It’s a little bit too easy to say it’s the goalkeeper’s fault right now. Yes, when he makes a mistake, everyone can see it in the stadium – but in a lot of games before he played very well too.

“At the moment it’s hard to accept some easy mistakes.

“We need to show we’re stronger than what’s coming from outside.”

Stendel also believes it is simplistic to suggest Hearts must alter their shape to stem the tide of opposition opportunities.

The Jambos have conceded three goals in each of their last two games against St Johnstone and Kilmarnock, with the sea of bodies being committed forward, allied with a perilously high defensive line, leaving them open on the break.

However, Stendel bristled when the idea of a change of tactics was suggested. Instead, he wants to see a more cohesive pressing game and Hearts working as a unit.

“The reason is not the shape,” he said. “The reason is our situation at the moment. Under pressure, we did not do what we said we would do, or how we trained.

“We looked at it afterwards and we have talked with the team. It is not just me saying ‘why we don’t do this?’ We are all together.

“The idea is that we do all things at the same time. People can ask why are we not defending better, but also why do we not press better?

“You need to understand that we can defend better but it is not the goalie, it is not the back four; it is all the players on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Hearts are sweating over an ankle injury to Donis Avdijaj, who missed out against Kilmarnock in midweek, while Toby Sibbick is likely to be absent again due to illness.

In a major boost for the Jambos, however, Michael Smith will return to the side.

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