Hearts boss ponders resting Souttar and recalling Ozturk

Alim Ozturk will be eager to win back his starting place
Alim Ozturk will be eager to win back his starting place
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Alim Ozturk could earn a recall to the Hearts defence today as management consider resting John Souttar.

Head coach Robbie Neilson could leave Souttar out of the home match against Hamilton after a demanding week with the Scotland Under-21 squad.

John Souttar was on international duty this week

John Souttar was on international duty this week

Club captain Ozturk is poised to step in if required having been left on the substitutes’ bench for the past three games. In that time, Hearts managed a goalless draw at Pittodrie, a 5-1 win against Inverness and a 2-1 victory at Partick Thistle, with Souttar partnering Igor Rossi in central defence.

The teenager was sent off during Scotland Under-21s’ 4-0 loss in Ukraine on Tuesday night. That result followed the 1-0 defeat by Macedonia at Tynecastle last Friday to kill off any slender hope of reaching the European Under-21 Championship finals.

Neilson spoke to Souttar in midweek and the player admitted feeling jaded. He was being assessed in training on Thursday and Friday before a final decision is taken on today’s starting line-up.

“I’ll see how John is. I spoke to him the day after the Ukraine game and he was tired,” said Neilson. “I think their flight didn’t get back in until about three o’clock on Wednesday morning. We’ll see how he is and take it from there.

“Everyone else is fit and all good, so I’m pleased. All the boys who were away on international duty came back without injuries.

“The Scotland Under-21 boys were back training with us on Thursday after their game in Ukraine on Tuesday night. We got Faycal Rherras and Arnaud Djoum back quickly [from international duty with Morocoo and Cameroon].

“Arnaud managed to make his flights so he was back on Thursday, which was a big help in terms of preparation.”