Injured Hearts duo are targeting January return

Jamie Walker and Soufian El Hassnaoui, below, have endured injury woes this season
Jamie Walker and Soufian El Hassnaoui, below, have endured injury woes this season
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HEARTS don’t expect Jamie Walker or Soufian El Hassnaoui back until the new year, head coach Robbie Neilson admitted today.

Both players are training but will be treated cautiously by coaching and medical staff and are not expected to return to the first team until January.

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Walker’s ongoing knee problem has sidelined him since the end of October, whilst El Hassnaoui has yet to feature this season after tearing his posterior cruciate ligament in July. The Dutchman also suffered a groin injury during rehabilitation and will be asked to play several under-20 matches to prove his fitness over the coming weeks.

Club captain Alim Ozturk will play 90 minutes for the under-20s against Aberdeen this afternoon. He is continuing his recovery from hernia surgery and was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Pittodrie.

“El Hassnaoui and Walker have been taking part in training so we’re continuing to build them up this week with a bit more training,” Neilson told the Evening News. “Ozturk will get a full 90 minutes with the under-20s today.

“El Hassnaoui and Walker will get a full week’s training and then possibly another full week after that before we look at getting them into an under-20 game. It would be a long shot for any of them to be back this month. Possibly Walker, but it would be a long shot.”