Hearts will continue to ‘manage’ Jamie Walker’s knee issue

Jamie Walker was named as a substitute for last week's match at Kilmarnock in a bid to protect his knee

Jamie Walker was named as a substitute for last week's match at Kilmarnock in a bid to protect his knee

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Hearts continue to manage Jamie Walker’s knee problem but the player is now approaching full fitness ahead of the winter months.

Head coach Robbie Neilson explained today that the knee issue is under control despite the player getting occasional pangs of pain from the area.

Walker underwent surgery last Christmas to remove a small section of bone and missed more than three months of the campaign. He returned in February and has played regularly since, although he is still bothered by some pain at times. Neilson said the problem is being managed carefully by leaving the 23-year-old out of certain matches at certain times.

“His knee is fine, we’re trying to manage it,” Neilson told the Evening News. “I didn’t play him from the start last Wednesday against Kilmarnock just because it was on astroturf.

“We then had Inverness away on Saturday.

“If we were playing Saturday and then the following Saturday and it was astroturf, he’d be fine.

“I just felt to play him Wednesday night and then a quick turnaround to Saturday would be difficult for him.

“I don’t think he’d have had any problems with it but, in the longer term, it might have caused an issue. I think he’s getting back to full fitness now.

“He’s working on his diet and nutrition and is taking a really professional approach around the club, which is also pleasing.”

Meanwhile, Hearts defenders John Souttar and Liam Smith have been named in the Scotland Under-21 squad for next month’s friendly against Slovakia in Myjava.