Hearts boss Craig Levein seen his side coast to a 2-0 win over Cowdenbeath in League Cup action recently.
One of the things he’ll have picked up on is how good new summer signing Craig Halkett really is.
The Scotsman joined from Livingston over the summer and made his debut in maroon at Central Park. He marked the occasion with a goal and an excellent performance.
He’s too good to just be left sitting on the bench this season, he has to be a regular starter. It gives Levein a selection headache ahead of the new term.
Hearts boss Levein should opt for Halkett over Christophe Berra
The regular centre-back pairing at Hearts last season was Berra and John Souttar. Whilst Souttar’s game has come on leaps and bounds since moving to Tynecastle, last season showed Berra is coming into a decline.
Aged 34, Berra has been a rock for the Jambos over two spells. A leader on and off the park, the ex-Wolves man has given nothing but his all over his Gorgie career.
Last season though things were a bit different. After picking up a nasty injury at the start of the season against Celtic, once he returned, Berra was a bit slower. He’s still as good in the air, but attackers were getting past him much easier than before.
Halkett on the other hand enjoyed the best season of his career. He formed a formidable back three with Declan Gallagher and Alan Lithgow, helping Livi keep 14 clean sheets over the course of the season.
The new Jambo looked like a young Berra at times. Given the contrasts between their respective seasons, 2019/20 should be used to filter Berra out the squad and replace him with Halkett.
It’s a difficult one for Levein. He ideally won’t want to drop his captain nor will he want to bench Hearts’ most valuable asset. Halkett by the same token deserves to start every week.
It’ll be interesting to see who the Jambos boss eventually opts for as his centre-back pairing.