Hearts captain Lawrence Shankland 'touch and go' to make Scottish Cup quarter-final clash with Celtic
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The Hearts captain has been feeling a tight hamstring and was kept out of training on Friday morning as Robbie Neilson’s squad put the finishing touches on the gameplan to face Ange Postecoglou’s league leaders.
There are boosts elsewhere in the squad with Alex Cochrane and Robert Snodgrass expected to return to the side after missing out on the 3-1 defeat at Celtic Park in midweek, while Josh Ginnelly will also be fit to play despite being forced off in that match through injury.
Neilson explained that he’ll give Shankland every opportunity to get himself fit in time but admitted the game may come too soon for the Scottish international.
“Lawrence Shankland didn’t train today so he’ll be touch and go. We’ll make a game-time decision on him,” said the head coach.
“He’s such an important player for us so he has to be bang on if he’s going to play. A couple of the other ones will make it so there will be a couple of changes but not a huge amount of changes.
“If there’s a possibility that these guys can play then we’ll want to because it’s such an important game for us. It’s an opportunity to get to Hampden for a semi-final. And when you look at some of the other teams in the competition it’s a great opportunity to progress even further, hopefully. But we have to take care of the first game.”
Shankland has been in terrific form for Hearts since joining from Belgian side Beerschot for a six-figure fee last summer. He became the first Hearts player since John Robertson in 1991 to score 20 goals in a single season, hitting 21 in 37 appearances so far, including the crucial second goal in the 3-0 victory over Hibs in the fourth round.
The 27-year-old was made first-team skipper at the end of 2022 after club captain Craig Gordon was forced out for the rest of the campaign with a broken leg sustained in a 2-2 draw against Shankland’s former club Dundee United.