HEARTS defender Ryan McGowan is suspended for the club’s visit to Celtic on January 19 after receiving six yellow cards in the Scottish Premier League this season. McGowan was cautioned for the sixth time against Dundee United on Sunday, triggering an automatic one-match ban.
The Australian is available to face Hibs on January 3, as the automatic ban takes effect 14 days after the sixth booking is issued. With the SPL entering its winter break, McGowan cannot serve his ban until Hearts travel to Celtic Park on Saturday, January 19.
His absence will be a major concern to manager John McGlynn, for McGowan has been one of Hearts’ most consistent performers this season at right-back. Jamie Hamill is still rehabilitating following a long-term knee injury and is hopeful of returning at some point in January, leaving deputies few and far between.
Darren Barr or McGowan’s younger brother, Dylan, could be asked to fill in at right-back unless McGlynn decides to delve into the under-20 squad and promote a young player.
Meanwhile, Dylan hopes his sibling will stay at Hearts despite being linked with a January transfer window move away from the club.
Ryan is out of contract next summer and, despite no agreement having yet been reached with Hearts over a new contract, Dylan said: “It is obviously up to him what he does, but I hope that he stays. He can be a great servant for Hearts.”
Dylan, meantime, has warned his Hearts team-mates that they can’t afford to gift-wrap any chances for Cillian Sheridan at Rugby Park today.
The Hearts midfielder has been impressed by Sheridan, who has banged in nine goals – including a hat-trick against the Jambos earlier this season – for Kenny Shiels’ side so far in the 2012-13 campaign.
McGowan knows Hearts must shut him down if they are to come away from Ayrshire with all three points, just days after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Dundee United.
He said: “They have been good this season and they’ve got a great striker in Sheridan, who is scoring them a lot of goals.
“We know that he will be a big threat but, on paper, I think that we are a match for anyone.
“If we turn up and play in the right frame of mind then I am sure that we can get the three points.”