CRAIG BEATTIE has an outside chance of playing for Hearts against Celtic tomorrow after returning to training following a hamstring injury.
Even if the striker fails to feature against his former club at Parkhead, he is certain to be fit for the all-Edinburgh Scottish Cup final next weekend.
Hearts are nursing Beattie carefully back to fitness after he missed their past two matches. He strained his hamstring against Dundee United at Tannadice last month, an injury which precluded him from subsequent games against Motherwell and St Johnstone.
He is now nearing a return, but coaching staff will take no risks with a man who is considered central to their Cup Final plans.
Hearts can secure a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds if they secure a point in Glasgow, and first-team coach Gary Locke admits several players will be given an opportunity to shine.
“Craig has trained this week, so we’ll give him every chance. He could possibly play tomorrow,” said Locke.
“We’ve got one or two injures that we’re monitoring at the moment. One or two boys have been doing really well and are on the fringes at the moment, like David Templeton, Arvydas Novikovas and Mehdi Taouil. These guys will all play a part against Celtic.”
Some of Hearts’ key players will be rested ahead of the Hampden showpiece against Hibs. Jamie MacDonald, though, should play in goal after recovering from illness.
He missed out on the Jambos’ 2-0 win over St Johnstone on Sunday, but will regain his place from Mark Ridgers.