Hearts answer the question of whether Liam Boyce will play again this season

The striker is making progress and is now back running at Riccarton

Liam Boyce has taken a step forward in his recovery from injury and is now back running outdoors at Hearts' Riccarton training base. The Northern Ireland striker had an operation last month to cure a tendon problem in his thigh but will not be rushed back before the end of the season.

Hearts are confident he will be fit to return before the campaign ends provided he suffers no more setbacks. Boyce's last game was against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on 2 December. Asked about the prospects of him playing again this season, the Hearts head coach Steven Naismith gave a positive answer.

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"Yeah, I think there's a chance that he will be back," Naismith told the Edinburgh News. "He is progressing well and he's now back out on the grass. He is just building up but since he's back running then I would expect him to be back before the end of the season.

"I know Boycie hasn't played lots of football this season but he is valuable to us as a squad. He had the injury last season and worked really hard to come back. The stop-start nature of this injury has been frustrating. I think we just need to manage him better when he is back because I think he can have a lot of value. We have seen that in the game he has played this season with his contribution and what he brings to the team. We need to make sure he is right every weekend rather than pushing him to the limits."

Hearts extended Boyce's contract in December to keep him at Tynecastle Park until summer 2025. He has made 20 appearances so far this season after spending almost a year out with a cruciate ligament injury.

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