Hearts star Osman Sow ready to face Celtic

Osman Sow was taken off against St Johnstone
Osman Sow was taken off against St Johnstone
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OSMAN SOW is fit to face Celtic on Sunday as Hearts counter the absence of the suspended Juanma Delgado.

The Swede was substituted 15 minutes from the end of last week’s draw with St Johnstone due to a tight hamstring but is expected to lead the attack this weekend.

Sow managed part of Tuesday’s training session at Riccarton and is scheduled to train again today. His availability is vital to Hearts with Juanma about to begin a two-game ban for his red card in Perth.

“Osman did part of the training on Tuesday and he’ll do some more today so he should be fine for the weekend,” said head coach Robbie Neilson. “Taking him off was just more of a precaution because he’s been carrying a wee niggle for the last couple of weeks. We hoped to get him off round about the hour mark, that was planned all along. He’s got a tight hamstring and he needs to be a little bit careful but it won’t be a long-term problem for him.”

Regarding the absence of top scorer Juanma, Neilson admitted: “We just need to deal with it. We have a good squad with the likes of Gavin Reilly, Dario Zanatta and Robbie Buchanan who can play in these positions. We aren’t short of players and there are guys who are desperate to come in.

“Gavin came in and played a couple of games and he’s been out of the team a bit in the last few weeks. He’s got two good players playing up front at the moment in Juanma and Sow. We always knew Gavin would take a little bit of time to adapt after coming in from Queen of the South. You can see in training every day that he’s getting into the group and he’s becoming part of the group. We believe he’s got a bright future at Hearts and he will play games and score goals. His opportunity will come.

“There are a lot of players in that position who are desperate to get game time. You’ve got Gavin, Danny Swanson, Miguel Pallardo has been out of the team recently, Alim Ozturk is coming back, there’s Jordan McGhee as well. We carry a squad of 16 to 18 players and there are always going to be guys left out. We look at it that it’s a long season and they will get game time.”

Neilson is wary of the danger posed by Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths, who scored one goal and created another in the Glasgow club’s 2-1 League Cup quarter-final win at Tynecastle in October. “It was two moments of magic from Griffiths that changed the game last time. There was nothing in it,” he continued. “Celtic had chances and we had chances. Griffiths is a good player and we need to be ready for him. We need to be aware of his movement and his directness but our boys have played against him a couple of times now.

“We’ll do some work on him and hopefully we can stop him playing.

“Celtic are used to pressure, they’re used to having to get results. Whether they’re coming off the back of a good result or a bad one, they’re always difficult opponents. We can’t focus on what’s going on over there or what people are saying. We have to focus on ourselves and try to do the right things to get us a result. ”Hearts and he will play games and score goals. His opportunity will come.

“There are a lot of players in that position who are desperate to get game time. You’ve got Gavin, Danny Swanson, Miguel Pallardo has been out of the team recently, Alim Ozturk is coming back, there’s Jordan McGhee as well. We carry a squad of 16 to 18 players and there are always going to be guys left out. We look at it that it’s a long season and they will get game time.”

Neilson is wary of the danger posed by Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths, who scored one goal and created another in the Glasgow club’s 2-1 League Cup quarter-final win at Tynecastle in October. “It was two moments of magic from Griffiths that changed the game last time. There was nothing in it,” he continued. “Celtic had chances and we had chances. Griffiths is a good player and we need to be ready for him. We need to be aware of his movement and his directness but our boys have played against him a couple of times now.

“We’ll do some work on him and hopefully we can stop him playing.

“Celtic are used to pressure, they’re used to having to get results. Whether they’re coming off the back of a good result or a bad one, they’re always difficult opponents. We can’t focus on what’s going on over there or what people are saying. We have to focus on ourselves and try to do the right things to get us a result.”