Hearts manager Craig Levein insists he will have no qualms picking his most energetic and athletic team for tonight’s Premiership match at Celtic Park.
Winger David Milinkovic is pushing to start after scoring twice in his last two substitute appearances. Levein intends to field a side with plenty fresh legs, conscious that Hearts are preparing for their fourth game in nine days.
Milinkovic scored after coming off the bench against Hamilton and Motherwell and could return to the starting line-up against the league champions. If not, his endeavour will be used later in the game.
“David is in contention, of course,” Levein told the Evening News. “My view recently has been to get legs into the team. I think the games have been quite attritional so I’ve tried to put people on the pitch who are fresh and capable of doing the running. That will be the same again tonight.
“I’ve rested David a couple of times now, Don Cowie has been out of the side, Kyle comes back from suspension, so that’s how I’m looking at it. I’m looking at who will bring us the most energy and running because we’ll need it. This game is going to be tough and then we have another match on Saturday against St Johnstone.”
The long injury list which hindered Hearts before the winter break has almost completely cleared. Midfielder Prince Bauben resumed training at Riccarton yesterday and Levein’s other selection issues are nothing out of the ordinary.
He will seek to protect on-loan defender Demetri Mitchell, plus recently-returned midfielder Arnaud Djoum.
“Jamie Brandon has had a cold, Steven Naismith is managing a bit of tendonitis, and I’m a wee bit concerned about Demi. This is his first shot at men’s football [since arriving from Manchester United three weeks ago] and he’s played three games in a very short space of time.
“Arnaud is just back from injury and isn’t up to speed yet. In fact, he’s quite a wee bit away from it. I’ve got that to concern myself with as well. I need to have a serious think about who I think can give us the energy required.
“We don’t have any injuries from the other day. Prince might be back, he trained yesterday.”