Don Cowie and Aaron Hughes have an outside chance of returning from injury when Hearts face Kilmarnock this weekend. Both players are due to resume full training at Riccarton today, with coaching staff hopeful they could play some part in Sunday’s Premiership match at BT Murrayfield.
Hughes missed all of October after aggravating a calf problem against Dundee at Dens Park on September 30. A hamstring complaint has prevented Cowie playing since the win at Ross County in the middle of last month.
The midfielder has had an injection to cure the injury and Hughes’ calf has now eased, allowing both men to do light training this week. They are due to take part in a full session this morning and will be in contention for Hearts’ Premiership match against Kilmarnock if they suffer no adverse reaction.
Manager Craig Levein will be relieved if even one of the pair are available due to his long injury list at present. He goes into the match without Arnaud Djoum, Jamie Walker, Prince Buaben, Malaury Martin and Ashley Smith-Brown.
Cowie’s return would ease the ongoing midfield crisis within the squad and provide some much needed experience in the middle of the pitch.
Hughes’ knowledge and awareness could help steady a back line which looked less than convincing in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat against Rangers.
Hughes has also been named in the Northern Ireland squad for their World Cup qualifying play-off against Switzerland – the first leg of which is next Thursday. His availability for that tie will likely depend on whether he can play for Hearts without suffering any reaction this weekend.
Meanwhile, Hearts players will wear black armbands against Kilmarnock as a mark of respect to former midfielder Stefano Salvatori, who died on Tuesday at the age of 49.
There will also be a minute’s applause after five minutes of play as the Italian wore the No.5 shirt during his three years at Tynecastle.