Pressley boost for Hearts as they prepare for derby
19 Oct 2001
Steven Pressley is set to play in the Edinburgh derby on Sunday despite the fact he has hardly trained in the past seven weeks.
The Hearts captain revealed yesterday that the troublesome ankle injury he picked up in training prior to Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Croatia had caused him more long-term problems than expected.
Despite the pain, he has kept going at club level to try to help bring much-needed experience to the Tynecastle side, who had been rocking slightly up until a few weeks ago in the wake of the transfer of Colin Cameron, the former club captain, to Wolves for (pounds) 2m.
The 28-year-old, who has not trained all week, travelled to Leeds on Tuesday to consult a specialist about his ankle problem and, although it still causes him problems, he is satisfied he is doing himself no long-term damage by keeping on playing.
No operation is required on his ankle, although doctors have told the internationalist it is important he rests as much as he can.
When he will find the time to do that remains to be seen and he has made it clear he desperately wants to play in Sunday's derby to try to eradicate the memories of the corresponding fixture of a year ago, which Hibs won 6-2.
Pressley's dedication to the cause is commendable in an age when many footballers would not risk playing through the pain barrier for too long and it is clear manager Craig Levein will want him at the centre of his defence at Easter Road on Sunday.
''The manager feels he needs to get his more experienced players out there especially with people like Robert Tomaschek missing,'' said Pressley.
''Going into the game I have only done work in the swimming pool and I certainly would like to play on Sunday, but won't take any pain-killing injections as they obviously don't enhance the heeling but simply cover the pain.'' Pressley has easily been Hearts' most consistent outfield performer this season, with only goalkeeper Antti Niemi matching him in terms of performances.
He has watched as the revolving door at Tynecastle has seen players like Gary Naysmith, Cameron, and now possibly Juanjo, the little Spanish winger, leaving the club, which recently posted a pre-tax loss of (pounds) 3.8m.
Levein has brought in right back Alan Maybury from Leeds United and left back Stephane Mahe from Celtic to bring even more experience to a defence which looked solid in their comprehensive 3-0 home win against St Johnstone last week.
A win against Hibs would help appease Hearts' supporters, who have been concerned at top players leaving the club and the way they lost the corresponding fixture last season, a point not lost on Pressley.
He grimaces when he remembers that 6-2 defeat to Hibs last October, which was one of the low points of Jim Jefferies time as Hearts manager.
Such a scoreline is unlikely to happen this time round and Pressley is adamant that his side will put in a good performance in his first derby game as captain.
His importance to the cause was yesterday summed up by Levein, who realises the influence Pressley would have on Sunday's game.
''It is a vital period and we all know that Steven is a very important player for us,'' said Levein, who will have Jamaican striker Ricardo Fuller, who has arrived on a three-month loan deal from Caribbean club Tivoli Gardens, in his squad.
''Steven has been told that the best form of a cure for his injury was to rest but, to be honest, that is not going to happen, as we can't afford to leave him out of the team.
''He hasn't been involved in training this week in an attempt to take as much pressure off the joint as possible.''
Taken from the Herald