Hearts' Uche Ikpeazu likely to make Scottish Cup final against Celtic

By David Walton

May 5, 2019

Hearts manager Craig Levein has moved to ease his club’s supporters over Uche Ikpeazu’s injury.

There were concerns for the Jambos yesterday as Ikpeazu had to come off against Kilmarnock with a hamstring injury. Despite eing subbed just three minutes into the second half, it doesn’t seem to be anything too serious.

Celtic and Hearts will face each other in just under three weeks’ time for their Scottish Cup final clash. Ikpeazu’s importance to the Gorgie outfit can’t be underestimated either. He only has eight goals this season, but he’s the focal point of Hearts’ attack.

Uche Ikpeazu injured himself at Tynecastle yesterday (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

But Levein has pretty much confirmed that Ikpeazu will be fit for the cup final later on this month. Speaking in the Edinburgh Evening News, this is what he had to say:

“His hamstring was a bit tight at half-time. He felt he could come back out in the second half and try it and I said to him that if he feels anything, there’s no point in carrying on and making it worse.

“So, I’m quite confident that we’ve not got any serious damage or anything like that. Sometimes you get warnings with hamstrings and sometimes it’s just tiredness and it can go away. By the time he’d had some rub at half time, he felt better, but he felt it again.

“These things tend to be minimum ten-to-14 days and we’ve tested the strength and it’s good.”

Ikpeazu is the head of the snake

Ikpeazu is pretty much everything to Hearts ahead of cup final day. Considering how direct and route one Hearts are under Levein, Ikpeazu is the main target of their long punts.

Ikpeazu was the hero in the semi-final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

So if he was to miss out, it would be like the head of the snake has been ripped off. With Steven Naismith also sidelined, Hearts would likely have to turn to the likes of the unfavoured Craig Wighton or David Vanecek.

Of course, it’s highly likely Ikpeazu is fit regardless. Celtic have struggled in the past to fully contain him too. In the recent 2-1 win over Hearts at Tynecastle back in February, Ikpeazu had his moments. He won plenty of individual duels against the likes of Dedryck Boyata and Kristoffer Ajer. He also set up the winner for Hearts against us back in August.

Craig Levein has eased Hearts’ fears over Ikpeazu (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Therefore, if he’s feeling up for it, he can be a real handful. It’ll be down to Ajer and Jozo Simunovic, most likely, to try and combat him and make sure his physical prowess isn’t a telling factor.

But any hopes of Ikpeazu being sidelined just aren’t likely. Hearts will do all they can to make sure he’s fit for cup final day, and Levein also admitted to Edinburgh Evening News that he could wrap him up in cotton wool before the final.

So, whatever happens between now and May 25th, expect to see Ikpeazu at Hampden.