Koslovski backs Hearts coach

Hearts sporting director Alex Koslovski has dismissed talk the club are set to replace head coach Valdas Ivanauskas with fellow Lithuanian Eugenijus Riabovas.

Hearts sporting director Alex Koslovski has dismissed talk the club are set to replace head coach Valdas Ivanauskas with fellow Lithuanian Eugenijus Riabovas.

Ivanauskas has been back home for two weeks recovering from illness but will not return to Edinburgh as expected this week.

Eduard Malofeev is currently stand-in head coach but Riabovas, manager of FBK Kaunas, was seen at the Edinburgh club‘s Riccarton training ground yesterday.

Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov also has interests in Kaunas which led to overnight speculation that Riabovas could be a ready-made replacement for Ivanauskas.

However, ahead of the Gorgie club’s CIS Insurance Cup quarter-final against Hibernian at Easter Road, Koslovski said: “There is no role (for Riabovas). He is here for professional improvement.

“He came to see us training to improve for his team in Lithuania.

“He did not get involved in coaching, he was just observing.

“He has no link with Hearts. I don’t know about his links with Mr Romanov, I only met him for two minutes.”

On October 27, just days after Ivanauskas was relieved of his first team duties, captain Steven Pressley, flanked by two more of the club’s Scottish international players Craig Gordon and Paul Hartley, issued a statement claiming there was “significant unrest” in the Tynecastle dressing room.

However, Koslovski denied there was an air of disgruntlement at the club and claimed Saturday’s late defeat to Celtic in the Bank of Scotland Premier League had actually improved the dressing room morale.

He said: “I could not find any unrest among the players. Did you watch our performance against Celtic?

“It was excellent so how can there be unrest if they were excellent?

“Actually morale is very high because sometimes defeat is better than a win and that is exactly the case here.

“We played very well but we didn’t get the result.

“But this united the team and we are more united than ever.”

Lithuanian striker Andrius Velicka, who scored in the 2-1 defeat at Parkhead, also claimed he was unaware of any concerns within the Tynecastle dressing room.

Speaking through an interpreter he said: “As far as I’m aware there is no unrest.

“Everything is okay, everyone is training every day and concentrating on the next game.

“I don’t understand English so I didn’t quite understand what they were saying.

“I heard Steven Pressley on the radio but I could hardly understand anything he said.

“Maybe Steven didn’t ask me about it because I am a new player and I hadn’t been through all the events that he and all his other colleagues did.

“But my job is to play football and I don’t want to be involved in anything else.”

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