Hearts face waiting game on Aaron Hughes and Harry Cochrane
Hearts will assess the fitness of Aaron Hughes and Harry Cochrane after both suffered injuries during Saturday's draw with Ross County.
Hughes was withdrawn at half-time with a tight calf, while Cochrane hurt his knee in the second half. None of the issues are regarded as overly serious.
Medical staff will monitor the players ahead of Saturday’s match with Hamilton Academical at Tynecastle Park. Cochrane has the greater chance of playing but Hearts coaches are hopeful of having both men available.
It was initially thought Cochrane, the promising 16-year-old midfielder, had damaged medial ligaments in his knee, leading to him being substituted on 79 minutes. However, those fears proved unfounded. Hughes told physios at half-time that his calf was feeling tight and, as a precaution, he was replaced by Prince Buaben.
The 38-year-old Northern Ireland internationalist recently spent six weeks out with an injury to the same calf muscle and manager Craig Levein is therefore keen to stay cautious. He will wait until nearer the weekend before deciding whether Hughes and Cochrane can be included in the squad to face Hamilton.
Centre-back John Souttar should be available after a bout of concussion. “Aaron’s calf was tight and we’ve been here before. We took him off as a precaution. I thought Prince was really good when he came on,” said Levein.
“Aaron recognised it and said it felt like it does before it usually causes him a problem, so we took him off. It’s just about trying to nurse him through. He’s such a good player for us and we don’t want to set him back another three or four weeks. It was unfortunate but we’ll get John Souttar back for the next game.
“Harry getting injured was unfortunate as well. We thought he had opened the medial ligament in his knee but it’s not as bad as first feared.”
Levein is also hoping striker Kyle Lafferty returns to full fitness after leaving him on the substitutes’ bench against County because of a virus.
“He picked up the virus last week so he wasn’t in for training on Wednesday or Thursday,” explained the manager. “He came in on Friday and the doctor sent him home because he still wasn’t right.
“I was hoping not to use him on Saturday but obviously we had to put him on near the end. We knew he wouldn’t have a lot of energy. We had this bug last week. Six or seven of the under-20 players were ill. Kyle caught it and I’m hoping he’s the last one to get it.”