After the international break Heart of Midlothian welcome St Johnstone and Craig Levein to Tynecastle Park. The former Hearts player, manager and director of football has already made a telling impact in Perth with four points from his first two games.

Supporters are treating the Premiership clash with a hint of apprehension. '1-0 St Johnstone written all over it' is a general consensus amongst the quite understandable fatalists. Levein and No.2 Andy Kirk will be conjuring a plan which will likely be to frustrate the home side. Both know what it is like to play in front of a frustrated Tynecastle Park support.

Part of their plans will be thwarting Alex Lowry.

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The on-loan Rangers star made his debut for Steven Naismith's men in the opening game of the season. He came off the bench around the hour mark when the score was 0-0 at McDiarmid Park and played a key role in ensuring his new team walked away with a 2-0 victory.

“I just want to make a difference as much as I can," Lowry said after the match. "I think it just comes to me naturally. I will bring a lot of creativity. I am always forward thinking and always want to get the fans off their seats."

The 20-year-old has very much demonstrated his creative mind and willingness to get the support out of their seat. His impact and influence on the whole has perhaps been inconsistent. The bare numbers will show two league assists and a couple of goal involvements in the League Cup, including a winning strike against Kilmarnock.

Dig a bit deeper and his presence is hugely important to Hearts. He is a midfield difference maker. With Barrie McKay on the sidelines there is no one quite like Lowry in the squad.

Since joining the club, Lowry has played on the left of a 4-2-3-1 or centrally as a No.10. More recently, with the switch to a back three, he has been stationed on the left of a midfield trio with freedom to advance into the final third of the pitch, as he did off the bench against Ross County to set up the winner earlier in the campaign.

It is a role which may well provide the best balance, allowing Lowry to provide the team with important qualities, namely direct, creative passing and the ability to drive forward with the ball, committing opponents in 1v1 situations. He is sixth in the Premiership for dribbles per 90 minutes and no Hearts midfielder or forward carries the ball more than him.

Lowry's favourite position to pick up the ball is on the left-hand side of the opposition half, as he did for the aforementioned winner in Dingwall. He took Scott Allardice towards the County goal before checking to create space prior to floating a glorious pass to Alan Forrest.

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He is also more than happy to take the ball under pressure and with his back to goal, confident in his ability to protect it or create space. In the below situation, he turned away from Mo Sangare but was fouled. He is in the top 10 in the Premiership for fouls won per 90 minutes.

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James Cairney mentioned Lowry's role in the win over Motherwell, perhaps his best performance aside from the win over Hibs. In the pass network below, Lowry has a very high position to the left. Those are the areas and zones he wants to operate in.

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As well as being excellent at creating space for himself in possession and protecting the ball, Lowry is adept at finding space behind the opposition midfield out of possession, drifting from the left to more central areas if required.

Hibs couldn't get a handle on him in the first-half of the derby at Tynecastle.

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And he proved just as elusive at times at Fir Park.

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In both instances he had team-mates brave enough to make the pass between the lines. Something he offers in abundance. Hearts have been guilty of being too pedestrian this campaign, playing too many passes without making enough progress or chances. The more Lowry is involved the more that will change. He takes risks. Something Naismith wants to see more of from his side

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"You've got to trust that you can play some risky passes," the Hearts head coach said ahead of the Motherwell match. "It is easy to call them risky passes, higher risk than a safe pass that we've been culpable of quite a lot. You play these passes that actually don't develop the game, all it does is waste time in the game. We are bad for doing that. We need to be playing more penetrative passes but that is not 'we need to have a shot within five seconds' it is about progressing you up the pitch or moving a team who we come up quite a lot at Tynecastle that are structured in a way where they want to defend, you need to break that first before you start making chances."

Lowry's presence ensures there is someone in the team willing to take the higher risk pass. In the below example, too often the pass would be laterally to the left to Alex Cochrane. However, Lowry took the option of sliding a ball down the side of the Motherwell defence for Liam Boyce, just out of shot, to run onto and therefore turning and stretching the opposition backline.

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There are a number of such examples of Lowry wanting to progress the game and take the team forward. Including on his debut. Rather than playing safe and going back the way he takes out the St Johnstone midfield with one pass.

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It's such passes which can be so beneficial against teams with men behind the ball. They want backwards or sideways passes. Lowry wants to go forwards. Against Livingston he had a number of easy passing options. He had the confidence to go straight to Shankland and bypass the Livi midfield.

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That forward-thinking mentality was on show against Hibs. As a Hearts fan reading this, how many times have you seen a player move the ball across the pitch sideways? Lowry instead released Stephen Kingsley on the overlap and into space.

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A few of these examples are from deeper positions where Lowry can help develop and progress the ball. At the same time, however, no player who has played at least 300 minutes in the Premiership averages more passes (5.69) into the box per 90 minutes and he has recorded the highest figure (3.54) for open play passes into the box per 90 minutes, ahead of Reo Hatate. He is second in the league for through balls. In addition, he is sixth for shots assists with 2.62 per 90 minutes (interestingly Jorge Grant is higher).

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The next step is to provide more numbers. StatsBomb did not count the second goal in the 2-2 draw with Hibs where Lowry's pass was diverted into his own net by Christian Doidge as an assist. Aside from that, he's mustered just one assist in the league despite the frequency of passes into the box and the 17 key passes which are shown below.

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No player has got on the end of more of his key passes than Frankie Kent with five. The duo combined to set up Lawrence Shankland for the weekend's opener and should hopefully get further joy from set pieces throughout the season. 

If there is a criticism of Lowry in possession then it is his decision making. From time to time he can be guilty of trying to force a pass too much and it is no surprise his passing success rate is 59 per cent, given how many higher risk passes he attempts.

Against Motherwell there was one situation where he carried the ball into a great area but then tried a reverse pass to Boyce in a tight area rather than carrying on a few more steps and playing in Alan Forrest who was appearing in a better position.

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At least a couple of times a game Lowry will put his hand up and apologise for an attempted pass or dribble where he has been dispossessed. In fact, only Duk has been dispossessed more than him in the league. Decision making is something which will naturally improve with experience. The last thing you want Lowry to lose, however, is his spontaneity, the way Jack Grealish has gone through Pep Guardiola's robot factory where every move is controlled and planned for. Boring.

As for the defensive side of the game, with a player of his creative qualities it makes sense to provide some sort of leeway. Yet, Lowry ranks sixth in the league for ball recoveries in the opposition half with Cammy Devlin top and is ninth for pressures per 90 minutes when adjusted for the player's position. It's encouraging and demonstrates that he is not a passenger when the team are out of possession.

While he may be on loan from Rangers, Hearts have a gem of a player in their ranks. A midfield difference maker who provides direct running, bravery and high-risk passes. One who can ensure Steven Naismith's men are far from predictable.