Clevid Dikamona and Peter Haring remain doubtful as Hearts prepare to face Hibs tonight, with manager Craig Levein set to take a late decision on who wears the captain’s armband.
Steven Naismith is out for up to eight weeks and may require surgery after suffering a cartilage tear against Celtic on Sunday. He had been deputising as skipper with Christophe Berra and John Souttar already sidelined by long-term injury.
Now Levein must choose his fourth captain of the campaign. He explained to the Evening News that he will decide on that issue and the fitness of Dikamona and Haring later today. The Congolese centre-back has a deal leg and the Austrian midfielder’s hernia is causing him discomfort.
“I genuinely haven’t thought about the captaincy yet,” said Levein. “Steven MacLean will do what he does with or with out the armband. There are candidates but I don’t know if Clevid is going to be fit or whether Peter is going to be fit. I need to wait until nearer kick-off to have a clearer idea of who is going to be on the field.
“Clevid got a bad dead leg on Sunday. Some players respond to these things quicker than others. He managed to recover quickly during the game but he was really sore on Monday. There is every chance I will give him until tomorrow before making a decision on him.
“Peter has the hernia and that will need dealt with but he felt better on Monday after the Celtic game, so we will see how he is.
“It’s a real honour to get to wear the Hearts captain’s armband so I will think about that carefully. It won’t be a case of just throwing it to somebody. It’s a big thing and I don’t want to treat it like anything else.
“I take it very seriously and I will be speaking to the coaches about who can represent the club as captain and add something to the group by being the captain.”
Aaron Hughes is on standby to step into central defence beside Jimmy Dunne should Dikamona fail to prove his fitness. “We’ve got Aaron, plus Michael Smith can play in there, so we’ll get by,” said Levein.
The manager also admitted he is thankful he signed 18 players during the summer as injuries mount up – but he would have signed even more if possible.
“I dread to think where we would be if we hadn’t bolstered the squad as much as we did. Actually, I’m kicking myself for not adding more players but we couldn’t afford it. That’s just the way it is.”