Northern Irish teenager Bobby Burns could be brought in from the cold to help Hearts solve a left-back crisis against Celtic tonight.
With Jake Mulraney nursing a hamstring complaint, Demetri Mitchell out injured for the rest of the season and Ben Garuccio suspended, the Edinburgh club are short in a key defensive area.
Burns, 19, is in contention to step in. He spent the first half of the season on loan at Livingston before being recalled by Hearts last month. He has only featured at reserve level since returning to Riccarton.
His last senior appearance in maroon came back in August in the opening league match at Hamilton, but the youngster’s versatility has earned him a recall. He can play left-back, left midfield and central midfield and is in the first-team squad for this evening’s match at Tynecastle Park.
“Yes, of course he comes into contention,” admitted manager Craig Levein. “We don’t have a lot of left-back options after that. I have played Michael Smith on the left side but he is out injured. Celtic are really good in the wider areas so I need to come up with something.
“Left-back is an issue. I’ve taken Jake off late on in a few games because he’s been feeling his hamstring. With Demi out and Ben suspended, it has put a little bit more pressure on Jake. He played at the weekend and I’m worried that the hamstring could get worse – even go altogether in the worst scenario. It is a concern.”
Centre-back Clevid Dikamona is also doubtful. He sustained a thigh injury from a tackle by St Mirren’s Greg Tansey at the weekend. “He did a little bit of training on Monday but wasn’t right. He trained again yesterday but I don’t know if he will play,” added Levein.