HEARTS manager Gary Locke admits his forward line is now under severe strain after Gary Oliver’s ankle problem compounded the club’s injury troubles.
The 18-year-old will miss the next three weeks after taking a knock in his first league start against Inverness last week. With Ryan Stevenson already sidelined, Locke is concerned about the pressure on those who are fit. Callum Paterson, 19, is certain to play as a lone striker at Celtic Park on Saturday, with fellow 19-year-old Dale Carrick Hearts’ only other fit striker.
Midfielder Jason Holt and goalkeeper Mark Ridgers are also out injured, while winger Jamie Walker has an Achilles problem, but could be fit to face Celtic if he can come through training today and tomorrow.
Locke bemoaned the continual injury problems affecting his team, specifically in attacking areas. “Gary got a kick early doors in the Inverness match and now his leg has flared up, so he’s going to be out for the next two to three weeks,” the manager told his club’s website. “It’s another blow, we’ve certainly not had the best luck with injuries recently.
“The striking department is paper thin at the best of times, but now we’re without Gary and Ryan Stevenson which certainly puts a strain on things. But there’s not much we can do about it, we’ll just keep working hard and prepare for Saturday’s match with Celtic.”
Locke will make a later decision on Walker based on whether he can manage to train before the end of the week and on the condition of his Achilles. The player is being closely monitored by medical staff at the club’s Riccarton training complex.