Hearts captain Steven Naismith returns to training

Steven Naismith is back training with Hearts at Riccarton.Steven Naismith is back training with Hearts at Riccarton.
Steven Naismith is back training with Hearts at Riccarton.
Scotland striker will be treated with caution

Hearts captain Steven Naismith returned to training today and hopes to be fully fit for competitive games starting next month.

After a minor calf niggle, the Scotland internationalist rejoined team-mates for a session at Riccarton and will be monitored closely by coaches and medical staff.

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He missed recent bounce matches against Sheffield United, St Mirren and Burnley as Hearts err on the side of caution with their skipper, who turns 34 next week.

Manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News that seeing Naismith back on the training pitch is a welcome boost.

“Naisy is joining in with us today so hopefully in a couple of weeks’ time he will be back to full fitness. We obviously need to take our time with him,” he explained.

“He’s had a couple of wee niggles recently so we are being very cautious with him. There is no point in rushing it as we get near the start of our season.

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“We have plenty of time and we will have a number of games coming up as well, so we will gradually introduce him to them and make sure he is right.”

Hearts plan to play a number of games against lower-league opponents if the Scottish Government allow official friendlies from September 14. That decision could be made later this week.

Their Betfred Cup and Championship campaigns both begin next month, plus there is the Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs on October 31.

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