Hearts boost as Liam Boyce travels north to face Brora Rangers with Northern Ireland approval
Hearts striker Liam Boyce has not travelled to join the Northern Ireland squad and is available for his club’s next two matches.
He was part of the Tynecastle party which headed north today for Tuesday’s Scottish Cup second-round tie at Brora Rangers. He can also play in Saturday’s Championship match at home to Queen of the South.
The Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough gave Boyce permission to stay in Scotland after his wife gave birth to their second child.
The player was named in Baraclough’s squad for World Cup qualifiers away to Italy this Thursday and at home to Bulgaria next Wednesday. A friendly with the USA is sandwiched in between.
Boyce was told he can concentrate on Hearts business to be nearer his family after the birth. The news is a huge boost for manager Robbie Neilson.
“Boycie hasn’t travelled with Northern Ireland because his wife just had a baby. They have allowed him to play in our games, which is great,” confirmed Neilson.
“Ian Baraclough has been brilliant to be honest. He said Boycie didn’t need to travel with the little one just being born so that means he is available for us.”
Boyce has scored 13 times for Hearts this season and is expected to continue his prospering partnership with Frenchman Armand Gnanduillet against Brora.
However, Hearts will again be without club captain Steven Naismith in the Highlands. He is still suffering from a persistent calf problem and has been unable to train.
“Naisy is still injured and will hopefully be back training next Monday,” added Neilson.