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Halkett impact creates welcome competition for Levein

The new signing creates a selection dilemma in the Hearts' back line.

Craig Levein says nobody's place in the team is certain as Craig Halkett's early impact puts captain Christophe Berra under pressure for his position in the Hearts team.

Halkett has made an impressive start to life at Tynecastle after moving from Livingston this summer. The centre-back has scored three goals in two games and impressed Levein with his defending and leadership.

That creates genuine competition for one of the two place in the centre of the defence and though Levein says he will have a decision to make as to how he accommodated Halkett, Berra and John Souttar, he believes all three will see enough game time.

"I've been thrilled with Craig," Levein said. "He's very low maintenance and he was captain at Livingston so he's a real leader and the more of those you can have in the team, the better.

"It's an added bonus for me that he's managed to score goals. That's not why he came to the club. His defending has been excellent and our defending as a whole has been really good.

"Unfortunately our best players the other night were all defenders. 

"Obviously he and John Souttar have formed a good partnership. Michael Smith was excellent and I thought Aaron Hickey was top class."

"You're better looking at good players than looking for them. From that point of view we've got a really good defensive line, including all the players mentioned and others. I'm quite comfortable with what we've got.

"There will be injury situations. There will be loss of form at times so it's good to have enough players to not have a big drop-off from your best levels. So I'm ok with [the competition].

Hearts will ease into the League Cup last 16 if they avoid defeat at Bayview tomorrow but Levein is warning his players to be on guard having watched East Fife shock Dundee United last week.

He said: "I think this will be a difficult game tomorrow. The pitch will be dry and the ball moves slowly on dry astroturf.

"Generally the favourites in the game are so because they have better technique and the ability to move the ball around quicker and expose the opposition.

"The fact the pitch is dry means we won't have as much of an advantage as we would normally.

"The 2-0 win up at Tannadice was a bit of a surprise but all credit to East Fife. We had people at the game and by all accounts it was deserved.

"So that gives us even more reason to be a bit more cautious and not to think we've got any God-given right to win this game. We have to work to create the chances and work to take them."

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