HEARTS striker Dale Carrick is pushing to return from injury before the season ends, head coach Robbie Neilson revealed today.
The 21-year-old has been running and doing light ball work at Riccarton having missed large parts of the season with hamstring problems.
Carrick suffered his latest hamstring injury whilst on loan at Raith Rovers in February but Hearts are hoping he could make an appearance before the campaign is over. Physios have been working with the player in an effort to help him rehabilitate and ensure the injury is fully healed.
Neilson told the Evening News that he is hopeful Carrick will be in a Hearts shirt again soon. He has made only six appearances for the Tynecastle club this season, the last of which was back in October.
“Dale has been running and doing some light ball work but we aren’t going to rush him,” explained Neilson. “Because it’s been a recurring injury, we will give him all the time he needs. He should be back in full training pretty soon, hopefully before the end of the month, and that will be a boost to him because he’s had a difficult time with injuries this season.
“If we can get him involved in a game before the season ends then it would be great, but as I said we won’t rush him too quickly.
“It’s important that, when he comes back, he’s fully fit and recovered from his injury.”
Midfielder Prince Buaben is definitely out until next season after an operation on his toe. “Buaben won’t play again this season. We’ll get him ready for next season now and focus on that,” said Neilson, who watched his team record a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Alloa last night.
Callum Paterson, Danny Wilson and Soufian El Hassnaoui scored the goals but Neilson was unhappy with his team’s first-half performance. They led 1-0 at the interval, however Neilson felt some players were already looking ahead to Sunday’s crunch meeting with Hibs at Easter Road.
“I think a lot of the players had an eye on the derby to be honest. They were very flat in the first half and took too long to do things,” he said.
“We changed things about a bit at half-time and the second half was better. We come back in this morning and we focus on the derby now. It’s a huge one for us.
“Soufain did really well with his goal. We’ve been waiting for him to get back fit and he’s got a good goal.
“He’s just getting back to full fitness now so we hope to get him more game time.”