Hearts aim to have five experienced players back for the Scottish Cup Edinburgh derby against Hibs at Tynecastle.
Arnaud Djoum, Michael Smith, Ross Callachan, Connor Randall and Prince Buaben are all recovering from injury and could be fit in time to face Hibs on January 21.
Smith was forced off by a back problem at Aberdeen last weekend as Hearts entered the winter break with a record six successive clean sheets and a nine-game unbeaten run. Djoum, Callachan, Randall and Buaben all missed the match at Pittodrie but are now on the mend.
Smith’s back is not considered a major issue, whilst Djoum is due to resume training on Tuesday having missed the last four matches of 2017 with an Achilles problem. Callachan is recovering from a thigh knock, Randall a hand injury and Buaben a groin complaint.
The players will travel to Spain with Hearts on Thursday for a five-day training camp, which includes friendly matches against Vitesse Arnhem on Friday and Nuremberg on Saturday.
They will not be forced to play in those games if they aren’t ready. Having all five fit and available for the cup tie with Hibs is the main priority for manager Craig Levein.
“I’m hoping we’ll have Djoum, Prince, Michael, Ross and Connor all ready for the Hibs match,” he confirmed to the Evening News. “Arnaud had the most major injury but his timescale is to be back training by January 9.
“Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but the injuries they had should hopefully have cleared up with a bit of rest for a couple of weeks.”