Hearts will assess Jordan McGhee’s fitness after Scotland Under-21 duty before deciding whether he faces Dundee United. The 19-year-old is favourite to deputise for the suspended Callum Paterson, provided he suffers no ill-effects from international duty.
McGhee played both games for Scotland against France on Saturday and Iceland last night and is now in contention for a recall at club level. Paterson’s suspension means he is likely to line up at right-back when Hearts visit Tannadice on Sunday.
“Jordan has obviously been away with the Scotland Under-21s so we’ll need to see how he is once he gets back,” said Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach. “If he gets through unscathed, he’ll be in contention for Sunday. He’s played right-back before and done well for us so we’ll make a final decision on that later in the week.”
The other contender to step in for Paterson is Liam Smith, who is also 19. He is highly rated by Neilson and the Riccarton coaching staff but has only made three senior appearances for the Edinburgh club.
“Liam has been doing really well for us in the under-20 team. He’s got a lot of potential and we’re trying to develop him at the moment,” continued Neilson. “We’ve had a few enquiries from Scottish Championship teams asking to take him on loan, but we feel he’s better staying with us for now.
“He can play in the under-20s and get the odd appearance in the first team and hopefully progress that way. We don’t feel he’s ready to be a regular in the team just yet but in time he can certainly get there if he keeps working at it. He just needs to be patient.”