Hearts V Dundee at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

07 April 2017

Hearts boss Ian Cathro calls for Sam Nicholson not to be vilified

Hearts head coach Ian Cathro admits Sam Nicholson acted "stupidly" by spitting in the direction of an assistant referee but urged people not to vilify the midfielder.

Nicholson was sent off during the midweek defeat by St Johnstone and will miss Saturday's visit of Dundee plus a trip to Kilmarnock as a consequence.

Cathro said immediately after the 1-0 loss that Nicholson's act was not aggressive and he aimed some criticism at the referee.

But there has been no Hearts appeal and the Tynecastle coach has now branded the 22-year-old's behaviour "completely unacceptable".

Cathro said: "We see and Sam accepts he has been foolish, acted stupidly inside his own frustrations, and has since apologised to his team-mates for making the game more difficult, for a stupid, rash action and frustration.

"He has apologised to myself for that. That situation is completely unacceptable to me because it impacts on the strength of the team. That is the responsibility of every player: to make sure they are always adding to the strength of the team and never getting caught in any frustration or moments that lead to us being weaker. That is something we will deal with privately.

"I would also like to add that Sam is a young, talented Scottish player who in this case has been guilty of a foolish, stupid action, but I don't consider he is guilty of any more than that.

"Now, that's bad enough as it is and I would say it's completely unacceptable to himself, to me, to the team, and to the club. However I urge us to not push that any further than what it is."

Dundee striker Henrik Ojamaa claims there is no need for a major overhaul at Dens Park after a five-game losing streak.

Paul Hartley's side have seen their top-six challenge disintegrate and travel to Tynecastle on Saturday in ninth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Hartley won the manager of the month award after an unbeaten February, which included a victory over Rangers but Dundee have not picked up a point since their 5-1 win at Motherwell.

However, Ojamaa feels they can recapture the pre-March form.

The Estonian said: "Everybody is in it together, we have to make sure we don't discard the things that have gone well for us previously.

"If you look at the month of February, we had a great month, not only the results but the performances.

"Lately things have been a little bit tough but it doesn't mean we have to start from scratch again.

"We have the quality and the system from the coaching staff to do as well, so we just have to make sure we get back on form.

"There's plenty of strength in the squad, we are not going to get too disheartened by some bad results, we are definitely strong enough to come out of this."

Source: PAR