Four Hearts players to return but Ellis Simms needing protected due to injury

Four Hearts players could return from injury for this weekend’s Premiership visit to Celtic, although striker Ellis Simms is an ongoing concern.

Stephen Kingsley, Cammy Devlin, Michael Smith and Aaron McEneff are all pushing for a place in the squad for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off at Celtic Park. Hearts won’t take any unnecessary risks, however, with the Scottish Cup final against Rangers less than three weeks away.

Andy Halliday played the final 20 minutes against Ross County at the weekend having struggled with an Achilles issue. Simms did likewise but the on-loan Everton forward is nursing a groin problem which needs managed carefully.

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“Simms has a problem with his groin,” manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News. “He’s had it for six or eight weeks now and we are just trying to manage it. We have an eye on the cup final. If we just keep playing him and keep playing him, we will get to the cup final and he won’t be 100 per cent. We are hopeful we can manage it.”

Kingsley was an unused substitute at the weekend despite not being fit after a knock. Devlin’s hamstring, Smith’s back and McEneff’s calf are all gradually improving.

“We are at a stage in the season where we are picking shapes for the players that we have fit in order to get them in the team,” admitted Neilson.

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“We hope we will have a couple more back for next week, and then another couple for the cup final. Then we can start looking at how we want to play rather than how we need to play.

“This week I expect Kingsley back in, Halliday played on Saturday, I expect Devlin to be round about it, potentially Smith and probably McEneff as well. That gives us five players and it’s massive for us.

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Hearts striker Ellis Simms has a groin issue.

“On Saturday, we had Kingsley, Halliday and Simms who were all on the bench but not fit to play, really. Stephen couldn’t, Andy had a knock and we weren’t sure but he got 20 minutes.

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“It was the same with Simms. Another week’s training and they should be alright.”

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