Hearts star in the running to haunt Raith again

James Keatings
James Keatings
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Hearts striker James Keatings has received the all-clear on his groin injury from specialists and could play against Raith Rovers a week on Saturday.

Having missed his club’s last four matches, the 22-year-old is doing rehabilitation work with the aim of returning to action in less than two weeks.

Keatings consulted a specialist over the groin problem which sidelined him after the 5-0 win over Livingston on September 28. He has been told there is no long-term damage and is now training in the hope of making himself available to face Raith.

Three of his four goals for Hearts were scored against the Kirkcaldy side at Stark’s Park in August as Hearts recorded a comfortable 4-0 win. Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach, is keen to have Keatings back but will not force the issue.

“James is over his problems, we’re just rehabing him now. He shouldn’t be too long,” said Neilson today. “He went to see a specialist and got the all-clear, thankfully. Now it’s just a case of bringing him back in. I don’t want to rush him because the injury he’s had is one you can’t rush back from.

“He will possibly be in contention for the Raith Rovers game. It would be great to have him for that one. He’s been doing really well since he joined us and he scored a hat-trick against Raith last time we played them. Psychologically, going into a game like that having already scored three against them would be good. He’s been working in the gym although he will be frustrated at not playing. He just needs to keep working hard to get himself back in again.”

The Scottish Football Association have confirmed that Hearts full-back Callum Paterson must sit out the club’s next two matches after being sent off in Sunday’s Edinburgh derby. Paterson was shown a straight red card for serious foul play after tackling Dominique Malonga from behind at Easter Road. He is now banned for forthcoming fixtures against Raith and Falkirk.

“We’ve got Jordan McGhee who can come in and we’ve got Brad McKay who can come in, so there is plenty of cover there,” explained Neilson. “I’m disappointed for Callum.”