ROBBIE NEILSON is convinced Hearts will cope without Callum Paterson as the young full-back braced himself for an injury lay-off.
Paterson injured his left knee against Annan on Saturday, which could sideline him for weeks or even months. He was unable to have the area scanned today as he is still in pain. The scan could now take place tomorrow if the pain reduces enough.
Hearts’ medical staff are hoping he has damaged medial ligaments at worst, which would mean an absence of around six to eight weeks.
If it is a cruciate ligament problem, the player could be out for several months. Neilson is praying for the lesser of two evils but insisted there is adequate cover within his squad.
Jordan McGhee, 17, replaced Paterson at half-time during Saturday’s 3-1 Petrofac Training Cup win over Annan. He is now certain to start against Rangers at Ibrox a week on Sunday when Hearts open their SPFL Championship campaign. First, they visit St Johnstone this weekend to play in Steven Anderson’s testimonial.
“Callum’s injury is a worry for us but we’ve got back-up there,” said Neilson. “It’s disappointing but it gives other players an opportunity to come in now. We’ve got Liam Smith, one of the young boys coming through, who we’re trying to push to get in about the first team. There might be an opportunity, or we’ve got Jordan McGhee or Brad McKay. We’ve got options in that area. It’s football. We just hope Callum isn’t too bad.
“His leg was put in a brace on Saturday and he’ll have the injury scanned. His studs just caught in the turf so we’re hoping it’s just his medial ligament. You can’t tell with these things until you get it scanned. Callum got a real shock and these things are painful. Hopefully it’s only his medial, which would rule him out for six to eight weeks. That’s about the most positive we can hope for.”