Craig Levein is confident that both Aaron Hughes and Connor Randall will be back in contention for Hearts’ trip to Partick Thistle.
The pair missed the 2-1 win over Hamilton Accies last Saturday through injury after impressive displays in the goalless draw with Aberdeen the previous weekend.
Versatile on-loan Liverpool player Randall was nursing a minor hamstring strain sustained against the Dons, while Hughes sat out the trip to Lanarkshire following a recurrence of the calf problem that has plagued him for much of his time at Hearts, albeit the 38-year-old defender probably wouldn’t have been risked on the artificial surface at the SuperSeal Stadium in any case.
Levein hopes to see the pair back in training tomorrow, with a view to being available for Saturday’s trip to Firhill to face a Partick side still awaiting their first Premiership win of the season. “I’m hopeful that both of them will be fine for the weekend, but I’m not certain yet,” the manager told the Evening News. “Connor felt his hamstring after the Aberdeen game and Aaron has a recurring calf issue that is maybe just down to his age. It flares up every now and then, but it seems to have settled down fairly quickly. It’s just a case of seeing how they are later in the week. Neither of them have trained so far this week, but I’m hopeful they’ll be okay.”
Levein explained that Don Cowie was only omitted from the starting line-up on Saturday to protect him from the rigours of the artificial pitch. The 34-year-old midfielder had started all nine of Hearts’ competitive games this season prior to the trip to Hamilton, where he was restricted to a substitute outing for the last 20 minutes.
“I didn’t start Don because of the pitch,” said the manager. “I think for the older players, it’s more difficult to adapt. Most of the younger lads have been brought up playing on astrofurf, so I was just looking after him more than anything else. I don’t think Aaron would have played on it either, even if he’d been fit.”
Cowie is a prime candidate to come back into the starting XI at Firhill as a replacement for Arnaud Djoum, who is set to be out until late October with medial ligament damage sustained in the first half against Hamilton. Randall, Prince Buaben, Harry Cochrane and Malaury Martin are among the others who could deputise for the Cameroon internationalist. “We have cover for Arnaud but it’s a blow because he’s a really good player and we don’t have any internationalists to replace him with,” said Levein. “We’ll definitely miss him – it’s just a case of making sure the lads that come in are able to step up to the plate.”