Craig Levein targets Hearts v Auchinleck clash for Uche Ikpeazu’s return

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Hearts have pencilled in striker Uche Ikpeazu’s comeback for the Scottish Cup tie against Auchinleck Talbot in 11 days’ time. Midfielder Peter Haring is also nearing a return having started running at Riccarton following hernia surgery.

The news is a massive boost to the Edinburgh club’s aspirations of qualifying for Europe this season. Ikpeazu hasn’t played since October due to a foot operation and Haring’s double hernia left him facing six weeks out at the start of the year.

Uche Ikpeazu is nearing a first-team return. Pic: SNS

Uche Ikpeazu is nearing a first-team return. Pic: SNS

Manager Craig Levein is hopeful Ikpeazu will return when Auchinleck visit Tynecastle Park in the Scottish Cup fifth round on Sunday, February 10. A potential date for Haring’s comeback has not yet been identified but he should be ready around the same time.

“I’m looking at the Auchinleck game for Uche,” Levein told the Evening News today. “He has worked so hard and I was watching him running the other day. He was flying when he got injured and was such a big player for us, so it will be good to have him back.

“It’s not definite but as long as things go to plan we could see him back for that Auchinleck tie. Peter is back running and has been doing the same running as Uche, so he won’t be far away. I will speak to the medical staff about him. We miss him in midfield when he isn’t playing.

“It’s great getting all of our injured players back because it really strengthens the squad. Our medical team deserve enormous credit for that because all these players are back earlier than expected.

“We got Christophe Berra back earlier than scheduled, likewise Steven Naismith and then John Souttar at the weekend. Now we’ve got Uche and Peter to return, which will be two huge boosts for us.”