Hearts will have to go into battle at St Mirren Park tomorrow with the same group of players that were humbled by Kilmarnock on Thursday, with the Tynecastle side’s injury situation unlikely to have eased in time.
Manager Gary Locke has been unable to fill his substitutes’ bench for the last two games as injuries have left his threadbare squad stretched to the limit.
Ryan Stevenson, Jason Holt, Gary Oliver and Mark Ridgers are all set to remain on the sidelines for the trip to Paisley, although Scott Robinson, who missed the defeat at Celtic last weekend through injury, slightly eased Locke’s problems when he returned to the fray as a substitute in the 4-0 Boxing Day thrashing at the hands of Killie.
With confidence levels low and senior players having to soldier on while carrying niggles, Locke confirmed he will have to rely on the same beleaguered group against a St Mirren side buoyed by Thursday’s 4-1 win over Dundee United.
“A few of the injured boys are back running, but these games [over the next week] will probably come too quickly for them, so we’ve just got to get on with what we’ve got,” he told the Evening News. “It’ll be the same squad again; we’ve not got any scope to change it. It’s not going to be easy, but the good thing is that we’ve got another game so soon after Thursday to try and rectify what went wrong.
“It’ll be a test of character for the players, but they’re going to have to do a lot better than they did on Thursday. Kilmarnock played some good stuff and scored some cracking goals, but we’ve got to make it more difficult for teams than that. I didn’t expect St Mirren to beat Dundee United 4-1, so that’ll make it even more difficult for us through there.”