RYAN STEVENSON is poised to make an earlier-than-expected return from injury when Hearts face Dundee United today. The midfielder has missed six weeks of football with a torn medial ligament, but could be named as a substitute at Tynecastle this afternoon.
His experience is seen as vital to Hearts given their senior squad is dominated by youth academy graduates. Manager Gary Locke is contemplating naming Stevenson amongst his substitutes as the player has recovered quickly from injury and trained without any reaction.
The initial prognosis was an absence of around eight to 12 weeks. However, Stevenson has shown remarkable healing prowess. He had been earmarked for a comeback against St Mirren next weekend, but he is ready to return today if Locke gives him the opportunity.
Hearts have no other injury concerns as they begin a period of two consecutive home matches hoping to return to winning form after three successive league defeats.
They progressed to the League Cup quarter-finals by beating Queen of the South after extra-time and penalties in midweek, earning a tie with Hibs at Easter Road.
Everyone is okay,” reported Locke. “I was worried the other night there about it going to extra-time. There is also the tiredness factor, but training has been good. It’s important we get ourselves back on track against a good Dundee United team.
“If you go to extra-time and penalties and go out, that can take its toll mentally. We’re in the next round of the cup, which is great, and we’ve got two home games at Tynecastle which everybody is looking forward to.”
Meanwhile, the League Cup quarter-final between Hibs and Hearts at Easter Road will kick off at 7pm on Wednesday, October 30, and will be broadcast live on BBC One Scotland. Ticket details will be announced in due course.