Ashley Smith-Brown stepped up his recovery from injury last night by playing 60 minutes for Hearts Under-20s against St Mirren.
The on-loan Manchester City defender enjoyed his first appearance in two months as the Riccarton youngsters went down 3-0 in Paisley.
Hearts will now assess his reaction and fitness before deciding whether he should start Saturday’s Premiership match away to Hamilton. Smith-Brown was an unused substitute against Aberdeen last weekend.
The 21-year-old has managed just 28 minutes of competitive action since arriving in Edinburgh in July. His Hearts debut against Elgin City in the Betfred League Cup was cut short by a groin complaint, with a niggling ankle problem also hindering him since then.
He was given time to rest and recuperate by manager Craig Levein, who was pleased to see the full-back finally back playing last night. “He’s played 60 minutes for the Under-20s and he’s getting fitter after a couple of weeks of training,” said Levein. “He’s had a couple of niggling little injuries which have obviously hampered his fitness and progress since he got here.
“We’ve tried to get him back up to full speed by letting him train for two weeks. We’ll see how he is after last night. I think he will be involved on Saturday. If he’s not on the pitch to start with, he’ll be on the bench.
“He’s obviously a talented boy but it’s just been a bit of stop-start beginning for him. Hopefully, if he can get a little run of games soon, we can see the best of him.”