HEARTS will deploy Darren Barr beside Andy Webster in central defence against Liverpool on Thursday should captain Marius Zaliukas fail to prove his fitness in time.
The Lithuanian sustained a dead leg against Inverness at the weekend and is still rated doubtful for the Europa League play-off first leg.
Medical staff at Riccarton are treating Zaliukas on a daily basis in the hope of having him available to face Liverpool. He will be given every opportunity to play, with manager John McGlynn prepared to take a late decision on his final team to accommodate the centre-back.
If Zaliukas is out, McGlynn will pair Barr and Webster together. He stressed today that he has no issue with those two forming a partnership against the English Premier League side.
“They’ve played together in the past and they did so on Saturday, so I don’t have any qualms about that,” McGlynn told the Evening News. “I would obviously prefer to have Marius because it was a big blow to lose him against Inverness. I don’t have any problem with Darren Barr and Andy Webster playing together.
“They are two very good players so that isn’t a concern or a worry for me at all.”
McGlynn admitted Hearts haven’t had much time to pore over what happened on Saturday, when they squandered a 2-0 lead against ten-man Inverness to draw 2-2. The size of the Liverpool tie means full focus has switched to European matters.
“You don’t really have time to analyse it because we have to move on to Thursday night,” added McGlynn. “We have to just bin what happened on Saturday, learn from it and move on. It’s a totally different kettle of fish playing against Liverpool and we’ll have to rise to the challenge.
“They’re obviously a fantastic football club. They suffered a 3-0 defeat themselves on Saturday (against West Brom) but only time will tell whether that is an advantage or disadvantage to us. We need to make sure we’re mentally and physically prepared and that we have all the information we need to do well in the game.”
Meanwhile, Hearts have had two SPL games rearranged for live television in October. The match away to Celtic on Saturday, October 7, is now a 12.45pm kick-off. The home fixture with Motherwell two weeks later on Saturday, October 20, is also a 12.45pm kick-off.