Hearts are ready to leave captain Danny Wilson out of Saturday’s match with Raith Rovers in the hope that he will be fit to face Rangers and Celtic later this month.
The club’s management team will not risk Wilson’s hamstring injury unnecessarily with an Old Firm double header on the horizon.
Yesterday’s Scottish Cup fourth-round draw paired Hearts with Celtic in an intriguing tie at Tynecastle on the last weekend of the month. Rangers are due in Gorgie on league business the previous week and the Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson is eager to protect Wilson with those matches in mind.
Saturday sees Raith visit Tynecastle before the Edinburgh club head to Falkirk. Wilson may be excused this weekend to aid his recovery from a persistent groin problem and ensure he can play against both Old Firm clubs.
“I might leave Danny out of the game on Saturday, depending on how he is. Then we can see how he is for the following week,” said Neilson today. “We’ve got two big games coming up now against Rangers and Celtic.
“These are massive matches for the club so we need to make sure we have all out players fit for them. First, we have two games before that against Raith and Falkirk which we need to win. I’ll need to judge it and see how players feel before these games.”
Striker James Keatings has returned to full training and should be in contention to play against Raith. “James will be back. He’s training but we aren’t going to rush him. We’ll see how he does this week in training,” added Neilson. Dale Carrick is also progressing well from a hamstring problem and is back running. “Dale is getting better and shouldn’t be too long now.
“He still has a wee bit to go but he’s getting there,” said Neilson. “He’s started running so he just needs built up again. He’s been bothered with injuries on and off this season. Before this it was his thigh, which is disappointing for him but he’s a good lad and he’ll be fine. Everyone else is fine ahead of the weekend.”