Sam Nicholson should return from a four-month injury absence in the next two to three weeks and give Hearts a major boost for the second half of the season.
The winger has not played since September due to knee surgery but is now able to join in parts of training sessions at Riccarton.
He is not ready for this week’s Scottish Cup tie against Raith Rovers but is expected to return to action in one of Hearts’ three upcoming league matches against Celtic, Rangers and Motherwell.
Head coach Ian Cathro spoke to the Evening News today and offered high praise for Nicholson’s attitude and desire during his lengthy recovery from injury.
“I would think Sam won’t be far away,” he said. “He’s joined in training, although not quite full training.
“He has started to train in parts with us and he’s gradually getting there.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with him. You can see he’s got great hunger, maybe a bit more than he had before.
“I think, after the experience of being out for a period of time, he’s come back into the training sessions with great hunger and great life. He’s got a brilliant attitude to his work and I was glad to see that.
“We’ll just need to manage the next ten days or so and get him up to a level where he can become an option for the team.”
Cathro pledged to hold talks with Nicholson about his future over the coming weeks. The 21-year-old is out of contract this summer and has yet to sign a new deal.
“I’ll talk to Sam about a number of things,” said Cathro. “Right now, what’s important for him that he gets himself ready for me to make a decision and for him to be an option for the team. He is working hard to do that.
“He’s made it clear through his work in training that he wants to impress and show his qualities. I look forward to finding out a bit more about him and see where that goes.
“The other bits are further down the line. I haven’t spent enough time with him yet so the two of us need to go step by step.”