Hearts captain Christophe Berra must pass stringent medical tests every day this week in order to face Hibs on Friday. Doctors continue to assess his recovery from a head injury with daily screening at Riccarton.
The 33-year-old was taken to hospital after colliding with Motherwell’s Craig Tanner in the 88th minute of Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final defeat at Fir Park. He has been given the all-clear from suspected concussion but medics are performing a series of crucial tests on him every 24 hours.
Guidelines on treatment of a head trauma are strict and Hearts will not risk the defender at Easter Road unless he is deemed 100 per cent fit. Should Berra fail any part of the test process, he will be ruled out of the Edinburgh derby for his own safety.
“There is new protocol in place for any head knocks, so we’re following the protocol,” explained the Hearts manager, Craig Levein. “Christophe has to pass certain tests on every day leading up to the match. If he fails any of them, then he won’t play.
“It’s pretty serious stuff so we will make sure everything is done properly. He got a bad head knock but he was never knocked out. With any head knock, the protocol now is to treat it with a high degree of caution. That’s what we’re doing.”
Hearts are already defensively weakened for the match against their city neighbours after on-loan Manchester United left-back Demetri Mitchell was ruled out for eight weeks. He has a torn meniscus tendon in his knee, so losing Berra would be another blow to Levein.
“There’s Michael Smith, Aaron Hughes, John Souttar and Connor Randall who can play in there, so we aren’t down to the bare bones,” he stressed.
Morale was low at Riccarton after Sunday’s 2-1 cup exit but Levein intends to have his squad firing on all cylinders by the time they arrive at Easter Road on Friday evening.
“We trained on Monday and the boys were a wee bit down as you can imagine the day after the game. We’ll be ready to go again for Friday night,” he said.
“It’s a blow going out of the cup, especially the way we went out. We were poor in the first half without Motherwell causing us too many problems. We caused our own problems with the goal, gave them the ascendancy, then we clawed that back in the second half and had the best chances.
“We missed a few of them and to lose a goal right at the death gives you very little chance. It’s not so bad if there are twenty minutes to go, you can still get back into the game. There was a huge amount of frustration to go with the disappointment.”