Hearts v Hibs preview: Probable line-ups, injury news, manager quotes

League leaders Hearts host rivals Hibs in the first Edinburgh derby of the season in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Wednesday night.

Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 10:21 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 3:43 pm
Steven Naismith will be missing for Hearts tonight, but Martin Boyle is expected to be a key man for Hibs. Pic: SNS

The Jambos sit top of the table on 25 points, eight clear of Hibs in sixth place on 17 points, although the Easter Road club have a game in hand.

Hibs have been inactive since losing 4-2 to Celtic in their last league match on October 20. In the intervening period, Hearts have won 3-0 away at Dundee before losing by the same scoreline to Celtic in the Betfred Cup semi-final.

Hearts team news: Manager Craig Levein has a severe selection headache after in-form striker Steven Naismith became the latest casualty of an injury-plagued campaign. The 32-year-old is out for a minimum of six weeks due to a knee injury and joins long-term injured trio Christophe Berra (hamstring), John Souttar (hip) and Uche Ikpeazu (foot) on the sidelines. Full-back Jamie Brandon is still recovering from his own knee injury, while Peter Haring is a major doubt due to an ongoing hernia issue. Defender Clevid Dikamona is also struggling with a dead leg. Striker Steven MacLean is also missing after accepting a two-game ban for violent conduct against Celtic's Kouassi Eboue

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Hibs team news: Head coach Neil Lennon is still unable to call on the entirety of his squad. Despite returning to light training this week, captain and full-back David Gray is set to miss out with an ankle injury, while fellow defender Paul Hanlon is still sidelined by a leg injury. On-loan Manchester City winger Thomas Agyepong has failed to recover from an ankle knock, but striker Jamie Maclaren is pushing for a starting spot after overcoming a back strain.

Magic numbers: 9 - the number of games Hearts have gone without defeat against Hibs at Tynecastle; 3 - the average number of goals scored by Hibs in their past five league games

Key battle: Hearts' defence is shorn of its mainstays and centre-half Jimmy Dunne, so far impressive since joining from Burnley on loan, will need to be at his best to contain Hibs striker Florian Kamberi, who is close to his peak after his own injury issues. The Swiss forward scored at Celtic Park last time out and also netted in the last Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.

Hearts boss Craig Levein: "We've had a number of blows in the last three or four weeks so we will just have to cope with this one as well as we have done with the other ones. It does leave us a bit thin on the ground up top with Uche being out as well, but we'll get by. It's important players, that's the thing. But we have played quite a few matches without Christophe and Uche and John already and I feel good about the depth of the squad. I am probably going to ask one or two players who are not 100 per cent to give everything they have got ."

Hibs boss Neil Lennon: "My main concern is that we are under-cooked. I know it sounds a bit rich coming from a manager about a lack of football, but this is only our second game since October 5. We've had a catalogue of injuries since the start of the season - (Darren) McGregor has been out a long time, (Paul) Hanlon has been out, David Gray has been out sporadically, (Jamie) Maclaren, our leading goalscorer, has been out the majority of the season. It happens. It's the process of having a squad. You just have to deal with it as best you can and try not to look for excuses."

Probable Hearts team (4-4-1-1): Zlamal; M Smith, Dikamona, Dunne, Mitchell; Morrison, Lee, Bozanic, Clare; Djoum; Wighton. Subs from: Doyle, Hughes, Garuccio, Godinho, Cochrane, McDonald, Amankwaa, Mulraney.

Probable Hibs team (3-1-4-2): Bogdan; Ambrose, McGregor, Porteous; Milligan; Horgan, Mallan, Hyndman, Stevenson; Boyle, Kamberi. Subs from: Marciano, Laidlaw, Whittaker, Nelom, Bartley, Slivka, Mavrias, Shaw, Maclaren.

Referee: Andrew Dallas

Kick-off: 7.45pm

Television: BT Sport 1