Hearts boss Craig Levein says he’ll start John Souttar against St Johnstone

John Souttar returned to action on Wednesday
John Souttar returned to action on Wednesday
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Hearts defender John Souttar is set to make his first start for almost four months against St Johnstone today.

The centre-back returned to action as a second-half substitute against Dundee on Wednesday after recovering ahead of schedule from a hip injury sustained in October.

Asked if Souttar was likely to start today, Levein said: “Yes. I was going to try and get him on anyway on Wednesday but I changed the shape to get more control in terms of passing out from the back and John helps us do that.

“Mikey Williams (fitness coach) worked with him through the latter period of his rehab and he’s just been working constantly on his fitness. He’s in great shape.”

Souttar could take the place of on-loan Leeds United defender Conor Shaughnessy who has played against Livingston and Dundee over the past week. “Conor has played two games in a week, which he hasn’t done for a while, so I’ll need to see how he is,” said the manager.

Michael Smith is nursing a minor back problem and will be checked ahead of today’s game.