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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Ivanauskas to take two-week break
Hearts head coach Valdas Ivanauskas
Ivanauskas aims to return to the Hearts dugout
Hearts head coach Valdas Ivanauskas is to take a two-week leave of absence after a meeting with club owner Vladimir Romanov in Lithuania.

Ivanauskas is citing ill-health and first-team matters will be overseen by sporting director Eduard Malofeev.

"I have full confidence in Valdas and look forward to his return," said Romanov in a club statement.

"During his absence the rest of the coaching staff will perform the necessary duties for our games."

Ivanauskas had refused to talk to the media following Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Kilmarnock.

But he broke his silence via the club's statement, saying: "It was my initiative to ask Vladimir for the meeting.

"He immediately said yes to it. He listened to all I said and it was great to feel his support and understanding.

"Despite how it may seem, the meeting was not connected to the defeat on Saturday.

I want to be, and must be, at the top of my physical and mental state

Valdas Ivanauskas

"I had been having some health problems earlier but now it is at the point where I cannot ignore them.

"I want to be, and must be, at the top of my physical and mental state.

"Therefore, with Vladimir's agreement, I am taking two weeks leave which I will spend on getting my health back.

"I will return in two weeks to my position as head coach. I hope our fans will understand my need for this."

Second-top of the league Hearts are eight points adrift of title-holders Celtic.

Romanov last season sacked George Burley and Graham Rix but has so far remained loyal to Ivanauskas, who was initially a caretaker boss but under whom Hearts won the Scottish Cup.

Former Soviet Union and Belarus national coach Malofeev, 64, arrived at Tynecastle in the summer.

The veteran manager has also enjoyed spells in charge at Dinamo Minsk and FBK Kaunas.

SEE ALSO
Hearts boss storms off after loss
21 Oct 06 |  Heart of Midlothian
Hearts 0-2 Kilmarnock
21 Oct 06 |  Scottish Premier


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