Hearts boss defends team changes for Spurs tie

Gordon Smith (left) and Arvydas Novikovas will play against Spurs
Smith (left) and Novikovas will start for Hearts in London

Manager Paulo Sergio believes the wholesale changes he is making for the Europa League trip to Tottenham will benefit Hearts in the long run.

Trailing 5-0 from the first leg, the Hearts boss has decided to make eight alterations to his starting XI.

"I have to think about what's important for Hearts at this moment, not about Scottish football because Hearts is my responsibility," said Sergio.

"I don't fear anything. It's a risk, but I have to do it."

With one eye on Sunday's Edinburgh derby with Hibernian, Sergio will rest some of his key players and take the opportunity to assess other members of his squad.

Teenagers Ryan McGowan and Scott Robinson will begin the game, Jamie MacDonald takes over in goals and Gordon Smith comes in up front to make his first start of the season.

Arvydas Novikovas, Rudi Skacel are also among the starters in London.

"I didn't have time to have friendly matches in pre-season so it's something I have to do," added Sergio, who replaced Jim Jefferies at the beginning of August.

"The players need to compete. Some of them are coming back from injury and others haven't played for us much before.

"If they want to have a professional career they have to be ready for that.

"I want those lads to show me how good they can be in the future.

"For Hearts it's the right thing to do.

"It is a part of their education. It's an opportunity for them to play in a good atmosphere against good opposition.

"It's an opportunity for them and I hope they will do a good job."

Hearts were well and truly trounced in the first leg and Sergio is expecting more resolve from his side at White Hart Lane.

"We have to show pride in ourselves tomorrow," the Portuguese said.

"We have to do different because the first half in Tynecastle, we conceded a goal after four minutes. That broke our strategy. I hope they will give a better match tomorrow.

"I am sure they will be more focused on the game than they were last Thursday because it's impossible to do the same again.

"We respected our opponents too much and I think in the second half they gave a different answer."

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