Hearts expect seven players back to face Dunfermline

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson anticipates seven players returning for Friday night’s league trip to Dunfermline.

Wingers Josh Ginnelly, Jordan Roberts and Jamie Walker are expected to be fit after injury, likewise midfielder Andy Halliday. Goalkeeper Craig Gordon, defender Michael Smith and striker Liam Boyce are due back from international duty on Thursday.

All seven missed last week’s Betfred Cup win at East Fife but they could feature at East End Park as Hearts pursue a ninth successive win in all competitions.

Having Ginnelly, Roberts and Walker available again would be a significant boost to Neilson’s options in wide areas. Those three also missed the league win against Inverness earlier this month.

Hearts expect seven players to rejoin their squad for the trip to Dunfermline.

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"I expect all three of them to be back, fingers crossed,” Neilson told the Evening News. “Ginnelly has been doing some training, and Roberts and Walker are due to train with a view to being ready for Friday.

"It would be really good to get those three back, and hopefully we get Michael Smith, Liam Boyce and Craig Gordon all back okay from international duty. Halliday should be fine as well. He has done some work and looked good."

Gordon, Smith and Boyce are due back in Edinburgh just 24 hours before the Dunfermline match following their international exertions.

Gordon is with the Scotland squad, who face Israel in Netanya on Wednesday night aiming to win their Nations League group. It is the final match of a triple header away from home for Steve Clarke’s team.

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It'll be interesting to see how the speedy winger fares with water from the North Sea dropping on him at various points.

Smith and Boyce are in Belfast with Northern Ireland for their Nations League tie against Romania. Ian Baraclough’s men must win to avoid relegation to League C.

Neilson has no concerns about the triumvirate returning to Riccarton so late in the week and said it will not affect their participation against Dunfermline.

"I've no reservations about that at all. I'm sure they will be fine for Friday,” he stressed. “We had the same situation against Dundee in our first league game, when players had been away travelling and weren't back until the day before the game.

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"We will assess them but I'd expect it all to be okay.”

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