The forward has won many fans over with his physical presence and hassling abilities, but as a striker, you need to score goals. Ikpeazu simply hasn’t scored enough of them for the Jambos.
Two in 14 Premiership appearances during his first term isn’t great, but eight in 26 overall paints a prettier picture. Five of the goals he has scored though have been against lower league opposition.
So what does he need to do to get back into Craig Levein’s XI?
Ikpeazu has to adapt his game at Hearts
His physical qualities are massive strengths, and if utilised correctly, are big positives for Hearts. It just hasn’t clicked for him this season though.
Those pressing traits have lead to him giving away silly fouls and generally make him look quite aimless. Ikpeazu does plenty of running, but it never seems to be for any particular benefit.
When he starts up front, it leads to Hearts kicking it long towards him. With Conor Washington up front, Hearts try to play the ball on the ground more. It was particularly effective against Motherwell and it’s no surprise they’ve stuck with that style since.
If Ikpeazu wants back in the starting XI, he has to adapt his game. No longer can he rely on his physicality, he needs to focus on his technical abilities. Should he improve his passing ability, hold up play and overall end product, maybe we’ll see Ikpeazu reintroduced.
Most importantly, goals have to come. Seven games without a strike this term is poor and when he does get the chance to play from the start, a goal will be vital for his chances of staying in the team and his overall confidence.
Right now though Ikpeazu doesn’t suit the way Hearts play. He’ll likely have to bide his time for another opportunity.