Hearts' Steven MacLean cited by Scottish FA for grabbing Eboue Kouassi's groin area

Hearts striker Steven MacLean and Celtic's Eboue Kouassi
Steven MacLean stands over Eboue Kouassi as the Celtic midfielder writhes on the ground

Hearts striker Steven MacLean has been cited by the Scottish FA for grabbing Celtic's Eboue Kouassi by the groin during the League Cup semi-final.

The 36-year-old is facing a two-match ban after the SFA compliance officer reviewed footage of the incident from Sunday's match at Murrayfield.

Manager Craig Levein had earlier revealed: "He said he's been doing it for years - I had to chuckle at that."

Kouassi fell to the Murrayfield turf after the 24th-minute incident.

The Celtic midfielder angrily accused MacLean of grabbing him, but the incident was not spotted at the time by referee Willie Collum.

The Ivorian, who had been limping prior to the clash inside the Celtic penalty area, was replaced with Scott Sinclair a couple of minutes later.

An act directed towards the private parts of a player on the field is now being considered an act of "brutality" and is deemed violent conduct.

MacLean, who had assumed Hearts' captaincy after Steven Naismith was substituted for an early injury, had brushed off the incident, describing it as "just a laugh" and "just handbags".

But Levein said: "I'm ruing the fact that they changed the rules this summer and then it becomes a different offence.

"Obviously we'll have to wait and see what happens. I'm not going to pre-empt anything and we'll deal with the decision as it arises."

With Naismith and Uche Ikpeazu now injured, it leaves Levein short of options up front, although any suspension for MacLean will kick in after Wednesday's derby with Hibernian.

"We have a number of players, two in particular in Craig Wighton and Sean Clare, who are getting up to speed now and look like they can help us," he said.

"An opportunity has arisen maybe quicker than they thought it would. They have good chances of being involved."

However, it could also leave Levein struggling to find a captain following a long list of injury blows.

Naismith had taken the captaincy at Hampden following injuries to Scotland centre-halves Christophe Berra and John Souttar, but it was passed to fellow forward MacLean after the on-loan Norwich City man picked up an early injury.

"I'm struggling with the armband - nobody wants it," Levein quipped. "We've got players who behave like captains even though they're not.

"There's Steven MacLean, apart from his recent... he's been great on the field helping everybody else.

"Olly Lee and Peter Haring have been very strong in that midfield area, so that has helped as well."

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport