Hearts: Better defending key to lifting confidence - Craig Levein

Hearts manager Craig Levein
Heart anager Craig Levein wants to build on solid defence against Motherwell on Saturday

Hearts have been working hard on defensive improvements in a bid to arrest the club's recent slump, says manager Craig Levein.

Levein's side are 11th in the Scottish Premiership after picking up just two points from their first four games.

Hearts, who host Motherwell on Saturday, have not won a league match since the end of March.

"One thing we can focus on with real intent, is defending better," said Levein.

"We've being doing that and hopefully that work will become evident at the weekend. If we can get back to defending properly, then I'm very confident that the players will be able to score goals."

Hearts beat Motherwell 2-1 at Fir Park in the League Cup last month. However, home form has been a problem, with draws against Ross County and Hamilton Academical following a run of three league defeats at the end of the last campaign.

"It's about relaxing and feeling comfortable in your environment," said Levein. "You could argue that our recent away performances have been better, which is unusual for us.

"It's not always easy to work on the imagination side of things. Players have to come up with things in the heat of the moment and a lot of it has to be instinct.

"Having a good outcome falls on the players being confident but we are suffering a bit from a lack of confidence. People are playing safe.

"So if we can get the defending right and score one goal we will probably win and if we can get two goals we will win then that's us back in a fairly positive position."

Levein is unlikely to risk forward Steven Naismith, while defender John Souttar has suffered a "little setback" with an ankle injury and on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Joel Pereira remains out with a thigh problem.

Naismith, who missed a large chunk of last season after knee surgery, was unable to feature in Scotland's Euro 2020 qualifying losses against Russia and Belgium due to a hamstring issue.

Levein described the injury as "very minor" adding: "He has not done a pre-season because of his knee thing from last season and he is still trying to play catch up.

"I just want to make sure he is all right. There is a small possibility he could start this game but I don't want to then have a recurring problem so my thoughts are that he's probably missing this one."

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