Hearts hope to sign 33-year-old English goalkeeper Bryn Halliwell to provide emergency cover for cup ties.
With Jack Hamilton cup-tied and both Neil Alexander and Scott Gallacher injured, head coach Robbie Neilson is attempting to register Halliwell in time for tomorrow night’s Petrofac Training Cup match with Livingston.
The former Clyde, Dunfermline, St Johnstone and Partick Thistle keeper has been involved at junior level in recent years – his latest move took him to Shettleston earlier this month – but is eager to take the chance to join Hearts. Provided registration can be completed in time, he should be on the bench against Livingston.
Lee Hollis, the goalkeeper who joined Hearts on Friday, is likely to start the match. Ironically, he was signed to provide cover following injuries to Alexander and Gallacher.
Several Hearts players get the chance to stake a first-team claim tomorrow night.
The match will see Gary Oliver, James Keatings and Scott Robinson amongst others involved, having played little or no competitive football so far this season. Hearts are without the suspended striker Osman Sow after his red card against Hibs, while Dale Carrick has a thigh injury
Neilson explained today that he will use the match at the Energy Assets Arena to give players game time. Robinson in particular will be eager to play. The midfielder is in the midst of a three-match league suspension which does not finish until after Saturday’s match with Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.
“Scott will be available to play in the league again after the weekend so he could come in and get some game time,” Neilson told the Evening News. “I’ve not made my mind up yet on who will play but there’s Scott, David Smith, Angus Beith, Liam Smith, Brad McKay and Liam Gordon. Guys like that will get some minutes on the pitch. “Tomorrow night we will give a lot of players game time. There are a few guys who haven’t featured a lot when they probably should because they’re good players. This game gives them a chance to come in and play. We’ll mix the squad up a wee bit because we want to get everyone fit and ready to go in if necessary.
“Look at what’s happened recently. We lose two goalkeepers and then we lose Osman because of his sending-off. Everyone needs to be ready to step in. We’ll use the Livingston game as an opportunity for guys to get game time.”
Oliver’s four goals in pre-season made him a difficult man to leave out of the starting line-up. Neilson has told the 19-year-old forward to stay patient because he will get an opportunity to play.
“He’s been doing really well and I’m really pleased with him. I couldn’t ask any more from him,” said the head coach. “He’s obviously disappointed he’s not getting involved but that’s just the way it is at the moment. There’s a lot of competition for places. A lot of boys are a bit disappointed.
“We’ll speak to him because you always need to speak to players these days, you can’t just ignore them. You need to let them know what your thoughts are and Gary’s been fine. He understands the situation. It’s a case of him waiting for his opportunity. He will get a chance this season.”