Kevin McHattie resumes full training with Hearts tomorrow to end a three-month injury nightmare.
The left-back has not played since damaging medial knee ligaments against Rangers in November but tomorrow he will take part in his first full training session at Riccarton.
Hearts medical staff hope McHattie will be back playing before the month is out, provided he suffers no adverse reaction. He will not be rushed into action as the club are determined to ensure he is fully recovered before he is asked to play a first-team fixture.
“McHattie will train on Sunday with us and that will be him back. He’ll be in full training with the rest of the squad so, touch wood, that will be us with a full squad fit and available again,” said head coach Robbie Neilson ahead of this afternoon’s match at Livingston.
“He’s started doing warm-ups with us in the last few days and he’ll take part in full training tomorrow. If we can get through the game today with no injuries then we’ll have a full squad heading into the following week. It’s been a while since we’ve had everyone fit.”
Today’s match begins a double header with Livingston which concludes next weekend when the two teams meet at Tynecastle. “We’ll take one at a time. We’ll go there and hopefully get the three points, and that would be a good confidence boost to take into the home game. The first one is the most important, as ever,” added Neilson.
His former Hearts team-mate Mark Burchill is now in charge at the Energy Assets Arena following John McGlynn’s departure in November. Neilson is impressed with Burchill’s work so far as he tries to take Livingston out of the Scottish Championship’s relegation zone.
“Their progress has been steady. I watched them on Tuesday against Alloa and they probably deserved to win,” he said. “Mark Burchill has taken over a difficult situation with the five-point deduction, but they’ve got a chance to get back into it again.
“I’ve known him for a long time and we speak quite a lot. It’s a great opportunity for him and I know Mark will give it 100 per cent. He was there as a player then John McGlynn brought him on to the coaching staff. So it wasn’t a big change when John left. I think he’s probably giving them their best chance to stay up.”