Hearts captain Danny Wilson will not be risked against Falkirk this weekend to ensure he is available to face Rangers.
Striker Osman Sow is rated 50-50 for Saturday but left-back Adam Eckersley should be fit.
The hamstring injury which saw Wilson miss last week’s win over Raith Rovers is improving, however he is unlikely to play at the Falkirk Stadium as a precaution. The Hearts management intend to give him another week’s rest in the hope of having him fit to face Rangers at Tynecastle a week on Saturday.
Sow has a thigh problem which, similar to Wilson, led to his absence against Raith. He also may not be risked against Falkirk with the Rangers game in mind. The club’s top goalscorer is seen as a vital element of the side for the match with the Ibrox club, against whom he scored the winner in August.
Eckersley was substituted minutes from the end last Saturday after taking a knee on his hip. He sat out training at the start of the week but was due to rejoin the squad at Riccarton today. Provided he suffers no adverse reaction, he will retain his position on the left side of defence.
“I don’t want to risk Danny and it depends whether we risk Os. I’d say he’s probably 50-50,” explained Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach. “It’s the difference between a hamstring and a thigh. If a hamstring goes it’s not too bad but if a thigh goes you could be out for months and months.
“The artificial pitch at Falkirk isn’t a problem regarding the injuries because grass pitches are heavy at this time of year. That’s when you slide. Astroturf is probably better. At least that surface is consistent.
“Adam will be fine. He’ll train with us today but it’s just a knock, it’s nothing to worry about.”
Jordan McGhee and Brad McKay are expected to continue in defence in the absence of Wilson and the suspended Callum Paterson. Kevin McHattie is poised to step in at left-back in case of any unexpected problem with Eckersley.
James Keatings is in contention for a starting place after making his return from injury as a substitute against Raith Rovers.
Dale Carrick, pictured, is Hearts’ only other injury concern ahead of the trip to Westfield.