Hearts boss may rest Kyle Lafferty for clash with Dundee

Hearts strike Kyle Lafferty is in good spirits
Hearts strike Kyle Lafferty is in good spirits
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Hearts manager Craig Levein will consider resting top goalscorer Kyle Lafferty against Dundee tonight.

Levein must decide whether to start the Northern Irishman or keep him fresh for Sunday’s encounter with Celtic.

Already without forward Jamie Walker due to a tight hamstring, the Edinburgh club will make a late decision on midfielder Arnaud Djoum, who has a knee complaint.

Lafferty has ten goals in 20 appearances for Hearts this season, including the winner against Motherwell on Saturday. It is the striker’s longest run of games for several years after he fell out of favour at former clubs Norwich City and Palermo.

Levein is not convinced the 30-year-old can manage three games in little more than a week and admitted he finds himself with a dilemma.

“I’m unsure about whether to play him,” said the manager. “I don’t know if he can play three games in a week – and I want him for Celtic.

“I’m just not sure. So we’ll see. He hardly played any football before he came here. If you look back through his career, you’ll see that.

“This is the most amount of football he’s played in about four years. I know he’ll relish playing against Celtic on Sunday.

“I’ve not made my mind up on whether he should play against Dundee or stay fresh for Sunday.”

Commenting on Lafferty’s contributuon since joining Hearts in June, and recently revealing a gambling addiction, Levein said: “Ten goals at this stage of the season is good for anybody.

“Kyle has had things to deal with, of course, but he’s a pretty happy-go-lucky character and seems to deal with most stuff that comes his way.

“I’ve been pleased with him and he’s helped us. We’ve had a difficult time for lots of different reasons but something like Saturday, when we get a goal out of him, is great. More of those would be helpful.

“He’s been good. I mean, look at the goal on Saturday. Don Cowie played a good ball through to him but Kyle still had a lot of work to do.

“He had that virus and was struggling for a little while. He has reached a place where he feels good about himself again – and that has helped us.”

Levein has discounted Walker for this evening but is hopeful he could be available for Celtic’s trip to Edinburgh. Djoum had fluid in his knee and is not 100 per cent certain to play tonight.

“We’ll lose Jamie and I don’t know yet whether Arnaud is going to make it. It’s not great,” said Levein. “I think Jamie might make Celtic, his hamstring tightened up again.”