Hearts striker Osman Sow is facing more time on the sidelines after receiving an injection for his thigh injury.
The Swedish striker is not expected to be fit until the end of the year, with Hearts hoping he will be back for the Edinburgh derby with Hibs on January 3.
The thigh problem has prevented Sow playing since the 1-1 draw with Hibs on October 26. Hearts medical staff had hoped he would be available to face Celtic on Sunday, but the player suffered a setback and has now taken an injection to help the healing process.
Midfielder Morgaro Gomis will miss the next two league matches through suspension, but there is encouraging news for head coach Robbie Neilson. Captain Danny Wilson played 45 minutes for Hearts Under-20s against Hamilton last night following a month out injured, whilst striker Dale Carrick is due to resume full training.
Neilson admitted Sow’s prolonged absence is a blow, but pledged to give the club’s top goalscorer as much time as he needs to recuperate.
“Osman is still struggling a bit after his injection. He might be another few weeks,” Neilson told the Evening News.
“It will be round about Christmas time when he gets back I would think. We’ll try to get him back as quick as we can but we don’t want to rush him again. I thought he was going to be back and then he had a wee problem again, so we need to really take the foot off the gas and make sure he’s right. He will be a big player for us and there is a long way to go in the season.”
Gomis’ red card in the Scottish Cup fourth round defeat by Celtic carries an automatic one-match ban for Hearts’ next fixture. The midfielder was already banned for this weekend’s league match with Queen of the South after accumulating six bookings, so he now misses the next two games. He will also sit out Hearts’ first Scottish Cup tie next season.
“We’ll miss Morgaro for the next couple of games, but we have other guys who can come in,” said Neilson. “Prince Buaben came on at the weekend, as did Scott Robinson. Soufian El Hassnaoui got a knock against Rangers and he wasn’t ready to play against Celtic, but he’ll be fine for this weekend.