HEARTS manager Paulo Sergio must make two key decisions on his team before tonight’s meeting with Celtic at Tynecastle, with Danny Grainger returning to the squad and David Templeton set to miss out due to injury.
Sergio will have to choose between Andy Driver and Mehdi Taouil to occupy the wide left position as Templeton struggles with a tendon problem sustained in Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie with St Johnstone. Also, at left-back, the Portuguese faces a dilemma over whether to reinstate Grainger or keep faith with the impressive Ryan McGowan.
Grainger has played only once since the end of October because of a persistent groin complaint but is now ready to return to first-team action. “Grainger is okay,” said Sergio. “I could have selected him for the last game but maybe he will be in the squad. He is ready.
“He is returning from a problem he had but I think he is okay for tonight and for the next few games. We have a problem with Templeton from the last game and Webster had a small complaint too, but I believe he (Webster) is going to be okay. Templeton has been on the bike in the gym but I don’t know yet if he will play.”
Sergio predicted a stern test from table-topping Celtic, who arrive in Edinburgh looking to secure a 16th consecutive victory in domestic competition. “We will have to be at our best level to get a good result. They are the team in the best position, that’s clear,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hearts striker John Sutton has received international clearance to finalise a four-month loan move to Central Coast Mariners in Australia. The Englishman’s contract runs until 2014 at Tynecastle but he struggled to establish himself under Sergio and has headed Down Under hoping to play regularly.
“It’s not something that I had been thinking about until I got the opportunity to talk to a few people about it,” he said. “It is an adventure for four months and we’ll see what happens after that but hopefully when I come back I can do well for Hearts again.
“I’ll be interested to see how the boys are doing at Hearts as I have a lot of good friends at the club and there is plenty for them to play for. I think they have a very good chance in the Scottish Cup and with a bit of consistency in the league, could finish third.”
Hearts, meanwhile, are confident of settling an outstanding tax bill of around £150,000 to avoid a winding up order issued by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The public notice of the winding up order appeared in yesterday’s The Scotsman.
A club statement read: “The club is aware of the notice placed in a newspaper today relating to an earlier petition presented to the Court of Session. The club is working to resolve the situation.
“The club is confident that the relevant matter involving HMRC will be resolved in the very near future and no action as specified in the public notice will take place.”