HEARTS’ hopes of securing a sixth win in seven games were raised today by the news that Inverness Caledonian Thistle could be without their joint-top goalscorer, Andrew Shinnie, for this afternoon’s match.
The midfielder, scorer of eight goals this season alongside Gregory Tade, is rated extremely doubtful due to a foot injury sustained in Wednesday night’s Scottish Cup fourth-round replay against Dunfermline.
Initial fears were that Shinnie may have broken his foot but in any case he is unlikely to take part against Hearts. Roman Golobart and Lee Cox are suffering from ankle and calf problems respectively to compound manager Terry Butcher’s injury problems.
Hearts arrive in Inverness high on adrenalin after five wins and a draw from their previous six outings. Shinnie’s absence would further enhance their prospects of extending the run.
Butcher admitted he may have to reorganise his team with injuries taking their toll during a hectic period of the season. “I might have to jiggle the team about a bit and rest one or two because they have been called upon quite a lot recently,” he said.
“It is times like these that you want your squad to come together and be hungry to give it everything. Ross Tokely and a number of others are coming back from injury, but if we do change the side and these players come in, I’m looking for them to come back and really perform.
“I have always been happy with the squad, but I feel everyone is really starting to blossom and mature now. They are beginning to look good and the understanding of position and confidence is much better than it was earlier in the season.” Butcher is eager for his squad to replicate the spirit shown by their opponents after a traumatic few weeks for the players due to wage problems at Tynecastle. “There is a great desire at Hearts, which is incredible given everything that has happened recently,” he said. “It seems the wage issue has united their squad and galvanised them to get on the pitch and do well.
“They got a great win last weekend, coming from 2-1 down with just ten players, but as far as we are concerned they have always been a good side to play against.
“They pass well and have players who can threaten the goal from all across the pitch. Of course, they are also strong at the back.
“I want us to match their hard work and desire and already this season we have drawn with them here and lost away, so we are looking forward to the challenge.”