Dundee v Hearts: Naismith joins injury list | striker back in the fold | new signing announced

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Hearts go to Dundee tomorrow in the Ladbrokes Premiership looking for their first league victory since the 1 February and to dispel the notion that they’re a one-man team.

READ MORE - Hearts sign former Leeds and Barnsley left-back Aidy White

Hearts' Craig Wighton speaks to the media. Picture: SNS

Hearts' Craig Wighton speaks to the media. Picture: SNS

The last time Hearts won away from home against Premiership opposition without talismanic attacker Steven Naismith was way back in October 2017, a run they’ll need to end shortly as they look to keep their hopes of European football alive with Naismith expected to miss the next eight to ten weeks after re-injuring his knee.

Manager Craig Levein will be hoping for three points and no further misfortune to befall his side with a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Partick Thistle coming up on Tuesday.

The squad was bolstered with the addition of Aidy White on Friday afternoon. However, the left-back has not played in over two years and will need to get up to speed before he can make his Hearts bow.

Dundee, meanwhile, are fighting for their lives in the Ladbrokes Premiership. St Mirren’s recent revival has brought Dundee to within one point of the bottom of the table, and Jim McIntyre’s men have conceded four goals in each of their last two games.

Dundee team news

Dundee again expect to be without strike pair Andrew Nelson (heel) and Craig Curran (stomach) for the visit of Hearts. Andrew Davies is due to join in with full training next week after recovering from a foot fracture. Long-term absentees Josh Meekings (hip) and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton (finger) remain out.

Possible Dundee team

Dieng; Horsfield, R McGowan, Kusunga, Ralph; J Curran, P McGowan, Woods, Dales; Wright; Miller. Subs from: Kerr, O’Dea, Hadenius, Robson, O’Sullivan, Moore, Parish.

Hearts team news

Steven Naismith, who missed last Monday’s Scottish Cup draw with Partick Thistle, will be absent for 8-10 weeks after requiring further surgery on the same knee he injured earlier this season. Jamie Brandon remains suspended as he serves the second of his two-game ban for elbowing Kristoffer Ajer in the 2-1 defeat against Celtic in Hearts’ last league match, though Craig Wighton returns after suffering with an ankle problem. Michael Smith and Demetri Mitchell remain long-term absentees.

Possible Hearts team

Zlamal; Godinho, Souttar, Berra, Garuccio; Clare, Bozanic, Haring, Mulraney; Djoum; Ikpeazu. Subs from: Doyle, Shaughnessy, Dikamona, Lee, MacLean, Vanecek, Keena, Morrison, Cochrane, Wighton.

Magic number - 21

Excluding the Scottish Cup match against non-league opponents Auchinleck Talbot, Hearts have failed to score three or more goals in their last 21 games. The last opponents they managed this against? The last venue they did this at? You’ve guessed it: Dundee at Dens Park.

Key battle

This one is fairly straight-forward, it’s Uche Ikpeazu against the Dundee defence. Whether it’s Ryan McGowan, Darren O’Dea or Genseric Kusunga tasked with stopping the hulking Hearts striker, if they can keep his influence on the game to a minimum then the home side should definitely fancy their chances. Even when Ikpeazu having a man-of-the-match performance at bottom-of-the-Championship Partick Thistle, Hearts still couldn’t get a victory. Nullify him and, without Naismith in the fold, it’s hard to see how Hearts can emerge victorious.

Referee

This will be the fifth game Nick Walsh has taken charge of involving Hearts this season. The most recent of which came last month as Colin Doyle’s late error gifted Motherwell all three points from the league meeting at Fir Park. He was also the whistler in the 5-0 defeat at Livingston. Dundee have similarly bad memories of Walsh games this campaign, going down 4-0 to Livingston and 5-1 to Aberdeen in their only two encounters with the referee in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Odds

Dundee 7/2 Draw 14/5 Hearts 3/4