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Kello No Go
It is hard for a manager to play his best team if the board interfere with his choices
Paulo Sergio could not play Marian Kello on Sunday as the club's board had vetoed that plan. The Slovakian goalkeeperKello, who is out of contract at the end of the season, reportedly turned down a move to Austria Vienna on transfer deadline day last week, preferring to stay at Tynecastle. This is not the sort of thing owner Vladimir Romanov likes to hear. Kello was part of the squad who warmed up on Sunday ahead of the Scottish Cup game against St Johnstone but it was Jamie MacDonald who took to the field. Cillian Sheridan's 77th-minute equaliser cancelled out David Templeton's opener as 10-man Saints earned a replay at McDiarmid Park on 14 February. Sergio said: "There is an issue running between him (Kello) and our board, a political thing. It's not up to me to explain that. I was told that because Marian is not committed with the future with Hearts, we should play the others. It's a tough situation. It's not a good thing for us." Hearts play Celtic on Wednesday and Kello - who was also made unavailable for selection last season under Jim Jefferies - may not be made available for selection unless the issue is resolved. With the league game in mind, Sergio was frustrated by the scheduling of Sunday's cup game. The Portuguese could not understand why Hibs Scottish Cup game with Kilmarnock went ahead on the same day as the Six Nations fixture between Scotland and England, but Hearts were not permitted to play then as well. He perhaps should have taken account of just how close Murrayfield is to Tynecastle and the associated policing issues meant it was not possible. Sergio said: "It was better for us if we played Saturday, one more day to recover the team. I was very surprised that there was a game at Easter Road. We were told because of the rugby game we couldn't play on Saturday. I wanted to play (on Saturday), or even Friday. Now we're going to play with two days recovery between two games." Sergio was magnanimous about St Johnstone taking his side to a replay in Perth. The Portuguese believed his side should have had a penalty early in the second half for a handball against Dave Mackay, but accepted Saints were worthy of a replay. He added: "Generally I'm not pleased with the (Hearts) performance. Maybe St Johnstone deserved the second game. We'll get ready to go there and try to win." St Johnstone manager Steve Lomas felt his side deserved to have a place in today's quarter-final draw. He was not pleased about referee Craig Thomson's decision to send off Mackay for two bookable offences with 17 minutes to go. Lomas said: ""I thought it would have been a travesty of justice if we had gone out of the cup. I thought it was one-way traffic second half until we got the sending off. I'm not here to criticise referees, they've got a tough job. I would just like Craig to come out and explain how, when somebody's hooking the ball back over his shoulder and he can't see the player coming in, how can that be deemed dangerous play?" Lomas brought on Sheridan at half-time and was pleased with the impact of the striker, whose loan from CSKA Sofia was extended last month. Lomas added: "When the big man's fit, he's got every attribute to be a top, top striker. It was a nice cool finish."
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