Robbie Neilson confirmed today that Hearts defender Callum Paterson will miss four to five weeks with a torn shoulder ligament.
Scans confirmed the injury and doctors have placed Paterson’s right arm in a sling, ordering him to rest for the next fortnight.
The 21-year-old now faces a race against time to fit for international duty at the end of the month. He is expected to be named in the Scotland senior squad for friendlies against Czech Republic and Denmark on March 24 and 29, provided his injury heals in time. Of more immediate concern to Hearts is the fact he will miss the next few weeks of their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign. They are currently third in the league and on course to reach the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, but Neilson is targeting second. Losing Paterson is a blow.
“He’s been scanned and he’s torn a little ligament in his shoulder. He’s to rest for two weeks and then we’ll build him back up,” explained the head coach. “He’ll probably be out for four weeks, maybe five maximum.
“The motivation for us is to try and get as high up the league as we can. We’re looking to try and get to Aberdeen. To do that, we have to keep winning games.
“It’s about getting into that winning habit by doing it every week. It’s more difficult to build that momentum in the top league but I can feel that we have a belief about us. We can win games, I just think we need to be a wee bit more ruthless and kill teams off.”
Despite Paterson’s absence, there was no place for Nigerian internationalist Juwon Oshaniwa in Hearts’ 18-man squad to face Inverness on Tuesday evening. Liam Smith took Paterson’s place at right-back, with Jordan McGhee the preferred defensive option on the substitutes’ bench. Oshaniwa was left to sit in the stand.
“I pick the team and then I have to think: ‘Right, what do I need for my bench?’” said Neilson. “On Tuesday night I felt I needed a centre-half and I needed cover for Smith in case he had a tough night or felt some cramp. I had to have someone available who could cover that position.
“Then I had two midfielders and two strikers to cover all areas. It’s unfortunate for Oshaniwa that I had to get cover in that area.”