Hearts boosted with three long-term injured players returning at Riccarton
Three senior Hearts players are taking positive steps towards returning from long-term injury at the club’s Riccarton training base, manager Robbie Neilson confirmed today.
Midfielder Peter Haring, out since October with recurring symptoms after a bout of concussion, is back running. He will be eased back into the first-team fold when ready. Fellow midfielder Beni Baningime and striker Liam Boyce, both recovering from cruciate ligament damage, will be out on the grass next week.
The news is another boost for the Edinburgh club as they look to extend their recent unbeaten run to ten games at Livingston on Sunday. “Peter is doing a wee bit of running,” Neilson explained to the Evening News. “We just need to take our time with him and make sure we get him 100 per cent fit. We don’t want to put a timeline on it. He is still suffering with some concussion stuff, I won’t go into any detail on it. He is just taking a bit longer than we all expected.
“Boycie is back running next week, which is great for him. Baningime is back running with a bit of assistance next week as well. They are two big players and big characters in the dressing room. Getting them out of the gym and taking that next step is great for them personally, but also for the boys just to have them round about us again. We are starting to get there with those two and Peter. It’s good to get three of them progressing. It’s always good to see them coming out onto the grass.”
Winger Gary Mackay-Steven is still recovering after a broken foot, whilst centre-back Craig Halkett is another cruciate ligament victim. “Gary will be the end of the season and Halkett will be end of the season as well,” said Neilson. “The squad is starting to come back together again and that gives us those options from the bench, which is important.”
Recent signings Yutaro Oda and Garang Kuol will be in the squad against Livingston but Neilson advised both forwards that they must exercise a degree of patience. With Lawrence Shankland and Josh Ginnelly both scoring in Hearts’ last two matches, the manager is reluctant to make too many alterations.
“Those guys [Oda and Kuol] have come in and they look great in training, but the guys who have been playing in the starting line-up deserve to start the games just now. It’s up to those other players to wait and, when they get their chance, take it,” said Neilson.
Sky Sports will broadcast Livingston v Hearts live on Sunday as third in the cinch Premiership visits fourth. Neilson outlined why his players must show a certain amount of resilience in West Lothian.
“This game is on the TV. There is a reason it’s on TV and that’s because they are expecting an upset. We need to make sure we don’t give them what they are looking for. We have to be at it. To be honest, I’m glad it’s on the TV because it gives it a wee bit of edge for us. It’s a game we need to be ready for.”