By Stewart Fisher

AUSTIN MacPhee will find out this morning whether he will remain in charge for Hearts’ crunch bottom of the table battle against his former club St Mirren on Saturday. While the Tynecastle caretaker manager is expecting to take the team again versus the club where he spent three years as assistant manager to Danny Lennon, he revealed last night that he is scheduled to meet owner Ann Budge for talks in the wake of yesterday’s 3-0 BetFred Cup semi-final defeat to Rangers at Hampden Park. Budge will then address the media later in the day, with the likes of Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson amongst those who have also been linked with the post.

“I’ll meet with Ann tomorrow morning, which was scheduled anyway,” said MacPhee, also Michael O’Neill’s assistant manager with Northern Ireland. “We’ll obviously talk about the structure in the next week but I would imagine so.”

The first stage of what he has previously called a “ten day audition” to replace the sacked Craig Levein on a permanent basis, MacPhee was unrepentant about his side’s approach at the national stadium yesterday. Events continued to conspire against the Tynecastle side, with mitigating circumstances including a continuation of the club’s injury jinx which saw him lose Glenn Whelan and Michael Smith in the course of the match. While Steven MacLean had to be withdrawn before he got sent off five minutes before half-time, MacPhee insisted that part of his game plan would have seen him removed for Uche Ikpeazu at the interval in any case.

“This is the fourth game I’ve stood in due to a variety of reasons,” he added. “I’ve won my previous three against Motherwell, Livingston and St Mirren.

“This was a cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden,” he added, “We haven’t beaten them since 2017, we’ve lost two experienced players through injury so I’m just going to do what I’ve done the two other times and make sure Hearts are prepared to beat St Mirren on Saturday.”

“It was disappointing,” MacPhee continued. “We knew everything had to go our way if we were to get a result but to lose Glenn so early ... he’s a very important and experienced player for us and then we lost the goal just before half time.

“Rangers dominated first half possession and most of our possession was in our own half but we hoped we could get in and regroup. We planned to add Jamie Walker and Steven Naismith to the team later on as they’re returning from injury, as well as having have Uche [Ikpeazu] strong at the end of the game but I had to introduce him early. We lost a goal and also Michael Smith and it was a terrible time to lose a goal, as well as two key players lost through injury. Would I start Uche if I could do it again? I’m not sure. Steven played a very important role in that system in the Scottish Cup final.”