Hearts duo set for return against Dumbarton

Prince Buaben missed the 10-0 rout of Cowdenbeath with a bruised toe
Prince Buaben missed the 10-0 rout of Cowdenbeath with a bruised toe
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Hearts expect to include both Kevin McHattie and Prince Buaben in their squad for Saturday’s league encounter with Dumbarton at Tynecastle.

The pair are free of injury and head coach Robbie Neilson confirmed today that they are ready to return.

Left-back McHattie hasn’t played for the first team since damaging knee ligaments against Rangers last November. He has now recovered and will play his third consecutive match for Hearts’ development team tomorrow when they face Celtic in a 2pm kick-off at New Victoria Park, Newtongrange.

Buaben injured a toe against Queen of the South two weeks ago and sat out last weekend’s record 10-0 win over Cowdenbeath. He could return to midfield, although Neilson is unlikely to make many changes to his starting line-up given the overwhelming nature of last week’s win.

“Prince will be fine. He just had a bruised toe, that was all. I’m expecting him to come back into the squad this weekend,” he told the Evening News.

“McHattie will also be available. We have another under-20 game this week so he’ll be involved in that and we’ll take it from there. He should be just about ready after three development games. It makes a difference for him being able to get a run out and get his confidence up as well.

“I don’t think he’s got any doubt in the knee now. I think he’s fine. He seems confident enough. He’s trained quite a bit and he’s played a few games so we hope that’s him over it.”

Striker Dale Carrick remains several weeks away from a return after injuring a hamstring playing on loan for Raith Rovers against Rangers at Ibrox last month. Neilson explained that the only target for Carrick is to be fit and playing again before the season ends.

“Carrick is getting better, although he still isn’t back in training or anything like that yet. He’s just been in doing work with the physio,” continued the head coach. “We’ll just take our time with him because he’s had a couple of setbacks this season and we don’t want it to happen again.

“I’d like to get him back and fit before the end of the season, that’s it. It’s important we give him time to come back because we want to get him as strong as we can. Injuries are part of being a footballer and you get periods like this.”