Cup final boost for Hearts as fitness news on key quintet in revealed

Hearts anticipate the return of five players before the Scottish Cup final as injury problems at Riccarton start to ease.

Manager Robbie Neilson has already welcomed defender Stephen Kingsley and midfielder Andy Halliday back into his squad, and five others are poised to follow suit over the next week.

Midfielder Cammy Devlin has an outside chance of being fit to face Celtic tomorrow after a hamstring issue. Defenders John Souttar and Michael Smith are targeting a comeback at Motherwell on Wednesday after ankle and back problems respectively.

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Midfielder Aaron McEneff should also be back in the next few days after a tight calf. Centre-back Craig Halkett hopes to return in the final league game of the season against Rangers a week on Saturday.

“Stephen Kingsley and Andy Halliday are in full training, John Souttar and Cammy Devlin have both been doing a bit of running along with Michael Smith and Aaron McEneff. We are getting there slowly but surely,” explained Neilson.

“They will all be touch-and-go for the next couple of games. We might have Devlin for Saturday, Souttar might be next Wednesday. He has done some partial training and is due to step that up to full training now.

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“Halkett should be the following Saturday. You would prefer them back earlier so they get more game time and fitness ahead of the cup final, but we haven’t had many options on the bench in the last couple of weeks. The numbers haven’t been huge so getting them back just gives us more options.”

Hearts will aim to extend a ten-game unbeaten run in Glasgow tomorrow. “Everyone is confident and morale is good but we know it’s going to be difficult in these last few games. We go to Celtic Park and then to Motherwell, where we lost earlier in the season, then it’s a big game against Rangers at Tynecastle.

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Hearts defenders Craig Halkett and John Souttar are close to returning from injury.

“There is still that edge in training. Players know they need to be ready before we think about any cup finals. Everybody is desperate to get into the team and stay in the team so training has been great over the last few days. It will be difficult at Celtic but our aim is to go there and win.”

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