Arnaud Djoum has declared himself ready to make his first start for Hearts in seven months after coming through a feisty reserve derby unscathed earlier this week.
The Cameroon midfielder returned to first-team action as a late substitute against St Mirren a fortnight ago. He was given further reassurance that he has recovered from his horror injury when he played the first 45 minutes for Andy Kirk’s reserve team in a ferociously competitive match against Hibs on Monday that ended up with both teams reduced to ten men.
Djoum is now eager to start for the first time since rupturing his Achilles’ tendon away to Ross County in February, although it remains to be seen if he will get the nod for today’s trip to Motherwell since Hearts have won all four of their league matches so far in his absence.
“It would have been nice to have another (first-team) game straight after the St Mirren game, but the international break gave me two more weeks to train and I feel better for that,” said Djoum. “The reserve game on Monday was the type of game I needed. I wanted to play in that to put myself in that situation where there would be a lot of tackles and duels. It was important for me. I only played one half but I did okay and I managed to cope with the tackles and duels. Physically, I am 100 per cent and feel ready to start. I’ve trained for a while now and if the gaffer needs me to start, I will be ready.”
Hearts will be without midfielder Harry Cochrane today after he suffered a knee injury in Monday’s reserve match, but manager Craig Levein is planning to return to the dugout for the first time since his well-documented heart scare three weeks ago.