Robbie Neilson has already decided how he will reshape the Hearts defence without captain Danny Wilson and full-back Callum Paterson.
That could mean a recall for Brad McKay, who has not played competitively since August.
The Hearts head coach stressed today that he would have no fears about throwing McKay into Saturday’s match with Raith Rovers at Tynecastle despite his lack of action. With Paterson suspended and Wilson struggling with a hamstring problem, Neilson will be forced to change his preferred back four.
McKay, teenager Jordan McGhee and left-back Kevin McHattie are all competing for the two vacant defensive places.
“I know what I’m going to do with the defence, it’s just a case of working on it,” Neilson told the Evening News today. “We have good cover. Even losing Danny and Callum, we still have really good players to come in. It won’t be a problem for us.
“The likes of Brad McKay will be fine if they come in. They’ve been training well and playing in the under-20s so I have no fear about putting them in.”
McKay and McGhee are able deputies at both right-back and centre-back. However, Neilson also has the option of recalling McHattie to the left-back position and switching Adam Eckersley across to right-back.
Eckersley is a versatile full-back who has played on both flanks during his career and is adept in both roles.
Striker Dale Carrick will also miss this weekend’s match as he recovers from a hamstring injury, but Neilson said he has no other concerns at the moment. “Everyone else is fit and training so all the boys should be raring to go at the weekend.”