Brad McKay is primed to replace the suspended Hearts captain Danny Wilson against Partick Thistle tomorrow as the Edinburgh club continue trying to fend off relegation.
Wilson was sent off for two cautions against Aberdeen in midweek and automatically misses the trip to Firhill as a result. McKay, having been out of Hearts’ starting line-up for the last month, will deputise beside Dylan McGowan in central defence.
Hearts have beaten Hibs and drawn with Aberdeen in the last five days, but they must win in Glasgow and hope St Mirren lose against Motherwell to preserve their Scottish Premiership status into the post-split fixtures.
The Capital club are currently 18 points adrift at the bottom of the league with only 18 left to play for.
“The aim is to win at Firhill,” said manager Gary Locke. “Obviously, if St Mirren get a result then it doesn’t matter what we do. At the end of the day, the boys are improving and everyone can see that.
“If we play like we did in the second half against Aberdeen on Wednesday night then we’ll give ourselves a good chance of winning.
“We’ll miss Danny and it’s disappointing, but we don’t have any complaints. With two bookings, he had to go and now we lose him for a game.
“Brad came on and did well and it’s a chance for him this weekend. He’s been great over the course of the season.
“Like any young player, he’s had a wee dip up and down in form, but he’s a reliable big lad and I’ve got no qualms about putting him in tomorrow.”
It remains to be seen if Locke keeps faith with striker Paul McCallum from the start after taking him off at half-time in the 1-1 draw with Aberdeen. Hearts produced a much-improved performance in the second half after Scott Robinson replaced McCallum and Ryan Stevenson moved to centre-forward.
“He’s disappointed at coming off, of course he is. Paul is a great lad who is up here on loan and he’ll have a role to play between now and the end of the season. There isn’t a problem,” said Locke.