HEARTS midfielder Don Cowie has absolved Celtic skipper Scott Brown of any blame for the injury his team mate Harry Cochrane suffered in the Ladbrokes Premiership game at Parkhead on Tuesday night.

Cochrane, the Tynecastle midfielder, looked in considerable distress as he left the field in the first-half of a game at Celtic Park his team lost 3-1 following a robust tackle by his opposite number Brown.

However, former Scotland internationalist Cowie insisted there was nothing malicious in the challenge in a defeat that brought his team’s impressive 13 game unbeaten run under Craig Levein to an end.

“I didn’t realise what had happened to Harry," he said. "The ball had been hooked over. I didn’t realise until I saw him at the side of the pitch. When I came in at half-time and saw him lying on the bed getting looked after by the medical staff I knew it could be something serious.

“But these things can happen. It was just an innocuous challenge that has happened. I believe somebody has maybe fallen on him and hurt his neck, shoulder area. It is quite a sensitive area.

“I don’t even know what happened because the ball got hooked upfield. I don’t know what happened after that. Scott is a competitive player, he has tried to win the ball and has hooked it on. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Celtic captain.”

Meanwhile, Cowie insisted the Hearts players, who now take on St. Johnstone at home in the league on Saturday, are still upbeat despite the heavy defeat they suffered to Scottish champions Celtic on Tuesday night.

The 34-year-old believes the way the capital club approached the meeting with Brendan Rodgers’s side showed how much they have progressed under Levein since their first trip to Parkhead back in August.

He was also impressed with how his side battled back in the second-half after falling 3-0 behind by half-time and pulled a goal back through Kyle Lafferty.

“We showed character,” said Cowie. “We said at half-time ‘can we win the second-half?’ So that was the positive.

“We went to a place that is a fortress. Domestically, they hadn’t lost there in a long time. We knew it was going to be difficult. There is no disgrace in losing 3-1 to Celtic. What we have got to do now is get on with it and make sure we get back to winning ways on Saturday at home.

“We aren’t going to get too downhearted about losing to Celtic at Celtic Park. Yes, we wanted to get a result, but it wasn’t to be. But there are plenty of other games coming up. The positive for us is the results we have had in the last two months.

“The fact that we went to Celtic Park on Tuesday night and felt confident that we could maybe do something says it all. We went there in the first game of the season after the manager had been sacked. We didn’t know what was happening. A caretaker manager was in charge.

“To go there four or five months later thinking we could get a result shows how much progress we have made. We are not going to dwell on it too much. We are just going to get on with it."

Cowie added: “We have strengthened really well in the window. I am looking forward to being back at home on Saturday. We have been undefeated since we have gone back to Tynecastle so we will be looking to do it again against a very strong St. Johnstone on Saturday.

“We have got really strong squad, we have got a lot of people vying for places, I am sure the manager will know he has got options to make this Saturday and maybe freshen it up. Hopefully we can get back to winning ways.”