Hearts explain Armand Gnanduillet's absence - plus team news for Aberdeen match
Hearts winger Gary Mackay-Steven has been nursing an ankle knock this week, while management are waiting to discover if striker Armand Gnanduillet is available to face Aberdeen.
The Frenchman has been absent due to familly-related issues and was not involved in last weekend’s Premier Sports Cup defeat at Celtic Park. He still remains part of the club’s plans.
Mackay-Steven sustained a minor ankle injury against Celtic and Hearts are hopeful he will be fit when Stephen Glass brings his team to Tynecastle Park on Sunday.
“Gary had a wee knock on his ankle but he did a bit of training on Thursday. Armand still has some issues family-wise so we will see where he is over the next couple of days,” said Robbie Neilson, the Hearts manager.
Aberdeen head to Edinburgh after back-to-back defeats in the last week. They lost Thursday evening’s Europa Conference League qualifier against Qarabag in Azerbaijan following Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup exit at Raith Rovers.
Neilson admitted that the size of their squad poses problems when trying to guess their starting line-up. “It’s difficult to tell who will start the game for Aberdeen,” he said. “Usually you watch a team and you know who nine or ten of their starters will be.
“Just now, you are probably looking at three or four definite starters with Aberdeen because of the size of their squad. They can bring different people in to play different positions.”
Hearts intend to be more assertive from kick-off this week having endured criticism for a passive first half against Celtic, which ultimately led to a 3-2 defeat.
A change of approach at the break brought a much-improved second-half display but it was not enough to prevent the Edinburgh club exiting the competition.
“In the previous games, we were stepping in to go and press. The problem at Parkhead was that we weren’t stepping in, then that stopped us getting further forward to get a higher press again,” said Neilson.
“We changed it at half-time and that helped in the second half. It was a tough game for everyone but I think we showed in the second half that we can get there.”