Hearts injury update on five players ahead of Celtic match
Several Hearts players are hoping to return from injury for Saturday’s Premiership meeting with Celtic at Tynecastle Park.
Midfielder Andy Halliday, defender Michael Smith and winger Josh Ginnelly are all in contention having trained at Riccarton this week. Halliday was forced off with an Achilles injury at Aberdeen last week, while Smith and Ginnelly have been nursing hamstring issues for most of this month.
Hearts coaching staff will give players until the last minute if necessary as they look to upset the Premiership champions. Peter Haring is already ruled out with concussion sustained at Pittodrie, and there are doubts over the fitness of winger Gary Mackay-Steven.
Nathaniel Atkinson is expected to be absent for a couple of weeks with the ankle knock he suffered against Fiorentina last week. Scans confirmed no serious damage.
“We have been able to get a couple of boys back fit, so it has been good to have that,” said Robbie Neilson, the Hearts manager. “A few of the lads have trained and we will have a couple who will take part on Friday.
“Peter Haring will miss it due to concussion protocol which is disappointing, but Andy Halliday will make it and a few of the others will be in contention. It bolsters the squad, a bit of experience as we were running with a lot of younger boys who aren’t quite ready.
“It’s good to get some of them back and by the end of the month I expect a few more to come back. Nathaniel Atkinson has rolled his ankle and should be one of the ones towards the end of the month. He has done well for us, he has the World Cup [with Australia] and we want to get him fit for that. We are disappointed to lose him but he won’t be out long-term.”
Hearts are determined to battle through despite their injury problems. “If we win on Saturday then we could be in third position,” Neilson pointed out. “It’s been a period we have had injuries but we have to deal with it. You will get injuries and loss of form.
“We had it last season around February/March when we lost a few to injuries and the form came down a bit. You have to remain consistent and build back up. We did that and got to a Scottish Cup final. We have lost some players but we have to get through.”