Hearts: Craig Levein says strikers' finishing must improve

Craig Halkett
Centre-back Craig Halkett (centre) has scored three of Hearts' five goals this season

Craig Levein has laid on extra shooting practice in a bid to raise Hearts' goal rate and told his players not to be "too clever" with their finishing.

The Tynecastle side have made an unbeaten start in the Scottish League Cup with two wins and a bonus-point shootout success over Dundee United.

But none of Conor Washington, Uche Ikpeazu, Steven MacLean, Dario Zanatta or Aidan Keena have scored.

"We've had between 65 and 75 goal attempts and scored five," Levein said.

"We're doing work in training and the goals will come I'm sure. We try to keep the focus on basically putting the ball in the back of net clinically rather than trying to be too clever about it.

"There's nothing we can do about good defending, people blocking shots and goalkeepers having worldies. But we can focus on hitting the target, particularly from crosses and at close range."

Levein, whose side can guarantee progress to the League Cup last 16 stage by avoiding defeat at East Fife on Saturday, praised the impact of defender Craig Halkett, who has netted three in three games since his summer move from Livingston.

"I've been thrilled with Craig," the Hearts boss said. "He's very low maintenance and was captain at Livingston so he's a real leader and the more of those you can have in the team, the better.

"It's an added bonus for me that he's managed to score goals. That's not why he came to the club. His defending has been excellent and we've got a really good defensive line."

Levein also confirmed he is making progress on signing a new midfielder, with Olly Lee close to agreeing a move to Southend.

Meanwhile, Hearts and Scotland Under-19 midfielder Andy Irving has signed a contract extension keeping him at Tynceastle until 2021. Irving has made eight appearances for Hearts and scored his first goal in this month's 1-1 draw with Dundee United.

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