HEARTS manager Paulo Sergio faces a selection dilemma at left-back this weekend, with Danny Grainger injured and Ryan McGowan suspended for the visit of St Mirren.
Grainger has suffered a recurrence of the groin problem which sidelined him in early November and could be absent for anything up to a month. He returned for Saturday’s Scottish Cup fourth-round tie with Auchinleck but was withdrawn at half-time in some discomfort.
McGowan, an impressive deputy for Grainger recently, serves the second of a two- game suspension for violent conduct towards Hibs’ Ivan Sproule in the recent Edinburgh derby. The Australian will be available for the trip to Inverness on Saturday week. The most likely alternative for Sergio would be to deploy Jamie Hamill at left-back against St Mirren.
Teenager Jordan Morton replaced Grainger at left-back against Auchinleck but his lack of experience at senior level could count against him. Darren Barr, stretchered off with a bad head gash against Auchinleck, is expected to be fit and could start at right-back.
“It was a nasty injury,” admitted Gary Locke, Hearts’ first-team coach, in reference to Barr’s knock. “He required a bit of treatment but he should be fine for the weekend.”
Meanwhile, Hearts have avoided sanctions from the Scottish Premier League after paying interest to players whose salaries arrived late in recent months. “Everything is up to date, including the interest payments. Everything is in order,” said a spokesperson for the SPL.
The next target for Tynecastle officials is now Monday, when they must process all player wages on time to avoid potential unlimited punishment from the SPL.
“The January salaries are to be paid on time on the 16th,” added the spokesperson.