Craig Levein gets Hearts full-back boost but sweats over fitness of attacking duo

Hearts manager Craig Levein
Hearts manager Craig Levein
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Ben Garuccio is free of suspension and poised to return for Hearts’ vital Scottish Cup tie at Partick Thistle on Monday. The Australian is set for a first start in six weeks after serving a two-match ban.

Manager Craig Levein plans to deploy Garuccio at left-back and Marcus Godinho at right-back, provided the Canadian overcomes tight calves. Midfielder Sean Clare is nursing a hamstring complaint, while forward Steven Naismith is doubtful after aggravating his knee against Celtic on Wednesday.

Hearts are definitely without Jamie Brandon, who is suspended after a midweek red card.

“Jamie is out, Naisy we aren’t sure about yet, Sean had a little hamstring issue after the game on Wednesday. Marcus’ calves were bothering him. All being well, Marcus and Ben can play the full-back positions. That’s my only real worry,” Levein told the Evening News.

Winger Jake Mulraney wasn’t risked against Celtic due to a hamstring issue and Levein is unsure whether he will make the quarter-final in at Firhill. “He is a younger lad and hasn’t had many injuries so he wasn’t sure what was wrong,” explained the manager.

“He had a hamstring problem which was causing pain. His game is all about speed so, if you play him, then if he tears a hamstring he is out for the rest of the season. I had to make a call on Jake. He wasn’t confident at all before Wednesday night. I decided to leave him out and if he makes Monday, then great.”

The 7.05pm kick-off time presents a challenge for Hearts fans travelling through Glasgow during rush hour. The tie is live on BBC Scotland and Levein accepted there is no point complaining after clubs agreed to the broadcast deal.

“The kick-off time isn’t ideal for the fans,” he admitted. “Getting through Glasgow at that time isn’t easy. Another 40 minutes would make a little bit of difference. However, the game is on TV and we have signed up to the TV deals so there’s nothing you can do. We will still take a decent crowd through.”