Hearts duo Djoum and Johnsen miss cup tie to work on fitness

Bjorn Johnsen trained with Hearts' Under-20s yesterday
Bjorn Johnsen trained with Hearts' Under-20s yesterday
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Arnaud Djoum and Bjorn Johnsen are back training with Hearts but will not feature in tonight’s Betfred League Cup tie against Elgin City.

Both will remain in Edinburgh to do physical conditioning work, with Johnsen training with the club’s under-20 squad this week.

Arnaud Djoum is cathcing up on conditioning work

Arnaud Djoum is cathcing up on conditioning work

The pair were given extra time off having been on international duty in June with Cameroon and Norway respectively.

Hearts travelled north yesterday without them to prepare for this evening’s match at Borough Briggs. Full-back Liam Smith was also missing due to an ankle injury which is likely to sideline him until next month.

Djoum remains a key part of head coach Ian Cathro’s plans but Johnsen is expected to leave Hearts before the summer transfer window closes on August 31.

“Arnaud is back training but he won’t be involved tonight. He will stay here and catch up with a bit of conditioning,” Cathro told the Evening News. “We’ll plan how to bring him back into the group and get him on the pitch. It will be done when the time is right. He hasn’t stopped playing for too long because he had the Confederations Cup with Cameroon so I think we can see him on the park before the end of the League Cup group stage.

“Bjorn has been catching up on a bit of conditioning. Because we are away to Elgin now, he trained with the under-20s to give him a harder training session.

“He’s needed to catch up a little bit because he had a bit of a knock coming back from international duty with Norway. He had an extra bit of time off so he was a little bit behind and is just catching up a little bit physically.”

Asked whether Johnsen would be part of his plans for the start of the season, Cathro remained coy.

“He’s here. We’ll deal with those things privately,” he replied. “We’ll see where things go. When the market is open, you can’t get too obsessed. We need to see where it goes but those things will be private.” The striker and head coach had a well-documented argument near the end of last season during a match against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

They have since settled their differences but Cathro signed strikers Kyle Lafferty and Cole Stockton over the summer – a sign that Johnsen is unlikely to feature at first-team level in future.

Right-back Smith has been absent from training due to an ankle problem and also missed Friday night’s friendly against Newcastle United at Tynecastle.

He is expected to be sidelined into August with an injury which is not considered serious. He is suspended for the opening match of the Ladbrokes Premiership season after accumulated six bookings last year.

“Liam has an injury so might be out for two or three weeks,” explained Cathro. “It’s an ankle injury, nothing too concerning, but it will take a couple of weeks.