Hearts concerned over Craig Halkett absence as nature of defender's injury is confirmed

Hearts will send defender Craig Halkett for a scan on his injured ankle in the next 48 hours.

Sunday, 17th April 2022, 11:16 am

Medical and coaching staff are concerned that the problem might end the player’s season prematurely after he was stretchered off in the 2-1 Scottish Cup semi-final win against Hibs at Hampden Park.

He left the stadium on crutches with his leg in a protective boot, but all concerned are hoping any damage sustained is only minor. Halkett slid in for a challenge with the Hibs forward James Scott early in the second half and seemed to catch his ankle on the turf.

Hearts will return to Hampden for the Scottish Cup final on May 21 and are confident right-back Michael Smith and centre-back John Souttar will be fit to take part. Halkett’s involvement rests heavily on the outcome of his examination.

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Hearts defender Craig Halkett on crutches at full-time on Saturday at Hampden.

“Craig is going to get a scan. He rolled his ankle so we need to wait and see how bad it is,” said Robbie Neilson, the Hearts manager. “Winning the semi-final allows us to aim for the final now. I expect John Souttar to be back, I expect Michael Smith to be back for it as well.

“I expect all the guys who picked up knocks to make it – potentially not Halkett, but he now has a carrot to try and get there.”

Neilson had no complaints about the challenge on Halkett from Scott or the physicality shown by Hibs, who went down to ten men for a late tackle by Joe Newell on Peter Haring.

“When you go down to ten men you have to be like that,” he said of Shaun Maloney’s team. “I've been in that situation as well. It's all or nothing. It is a derby, a semi-final. You're not thinking about next week, you're trying to go through so it becomes a bit aggressive. We have to match that as well. In periods we did. Was it over the line at times? We’ll wait and see.”

“There were a few meaty challenges, but it is a derby. It is a Scottish Cup semi final. I would expect that. The Halkett challenge was more that he caught his studs. There was nothing really in it.”

Josh Campbell was booked for a late tackle on Barrie McKay when Hibs were already down to 10 men, but Neilson wouldn’t be drawn on whether or not it should have been a red card.

He said: “The tackle on Barrie was heavy, but it’s a derby and Scottish Cup semi-final so I’d expect that in the game.”

“Barrie is used to the attention. He’s played in English Championship and League One where you get it every week.

“He expects it because he’s a key player, some teams go hard on him to put him off his game. But he’s got great character, he just keeps coming back.”

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