Three key Hearts players are due to return from injury in time to face Rangers next week. Strikers Osman Sow and Dale Carrick plus left-back Kevin McHattie should resume full training at Riccarton next week after long-term absences.
All three will then be included in the squad for the visit to Ibrox on Friday week, provided they suffer no adverse reaction. Head coach Robbie Neilson is eager to have a fully-fit squad as quickly as possible and expects to see another injured forward, Soufian El Hassnaoui, back in full training the week after next.
Sow has not played since October 26 because of a torn thigh muscle. Carrick’s last game before he tore his hamstring was on October 11, while McHattie suffered a torn medial ligament in a tackle by Rangers’ Kenny Miller at Tynecastle on November 22.
All three are now on the verge of a return ahead of a crucial league fixture with Rangers in the race for the Scottish Championship title.
“Nobody will make it for this Saturday, but hopefully the three of them will be back training on Sunday morning,” Neilson told the Evening News today. “Sow and Carrick should be fine and possibly McHattie will do a little bit depending on how he goes this week.
“They’ll be part of the squad for the Rangers game. Whether they’ll be involved in the match will depend on how their fitness is and how they recover. They’ll definitely be part of the squad and it will give us all a boost getting guys like that back.”
El Hassnaoui was also injured against Rangers in November and has not played since. He damaged his ankle in that match, but Hearts medical staff hope to have him fit again in time for the home match with Falkirk later this month.
El Hassnaoui is around a week behind Sow, Carrick and McHattie in his rehabilitation.
“They are all running at the moment so it’s just a case of building them up, getting them ready and then trying them,” continued Neilson.
“It will be good if we can get them all back and Soufian should be ready the week after as well.”
Neilson reported no fresh injuries to his squad following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Hibs in the Edinburgh derby.