Ryan Stevenson is set to miss the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final showdown with Inverness Caledonian Thistle after the Hearts player was given a two-match ban for his contentious tackle on Hibs captain James McPake in last week’s Edinburgh derby.
It means the midfielder will sit out Hearts’ trip to Celtic when the SPL resumes a week on Saturday after its winter shutdown, while also being sidelined for the last-four encounter with the high-flying Highlanders at Easter Road the following weekend.
Stevenson was yesterday offered the suspension after his tackle, where he led with both feet, became the subject of retrospective action from compliance officer Vincent Lunny. Willie Collum, the referee in last Thursday’s feisty Tynecastle clash, took no action but Lunny yesterday deemed Stevenson to have breached Disciplinary Rule 200, in inflicting “serious foul play on an opponent”.
Hibs manager Pat Fenlon claimed immediately after the match that his captain had been the victim of “a shocking tackle”, insisting that Stevenson “had a look first before he left the ground”. Easter Road defender Ryan McGivern branded it a “disgusting tackle”, prompting Stevenson to come out and defend himself. The Hearts man said: “It was 50-50 and the ball was there to be won. I went in hard but in my mind I went in fair, too. It may not look great in slow motion but my only intention was to win the ball, nothing else.”
Hearts had until 3pm today to reject the fixed suspension offered, in which case a Fast Track Tribunal would be convened on Thursday to consider the complaint.
The suspension leaves Hearts particularly short of experienced players for the trip to Celtic Park, with captain Marius Zaliukas already having incurred a suspension for the clash with the champions and fellow defender Ryan McGowan, who had also gone through the disciplinary points threshold, having departed for Chinese side Shandong Luneng Taishan.
It also emerged last week that long-term injury victim Jamie Hamill is unlikely to be fit for the trip to Glasgow’s east end despite manager John McGlynn earlier pinpointing it as a
possible comeback match for the former Kilmarnock player.