Hearts and Manchester City have agreed to send injured full-back Ashley Smith-Brown to a specialist. Both clubs are desperate to resolve the fitness issues which have dogged his loan move to Tynecastle.
Medics at Riccarton and the Etihad Campus are mystified by the persistent groin and pelvic trouble the 21-year-old has suffered. He has played only one full game since arriving in Edinburgh in July and neither club has been able to identify the root of the problem. Hearts sent Smith-Brown back to City last month to let their doctors scan and examine him but, with no solution forthcoming, he will now visit a specialist.
“He’s going to see a specialist because there must be some underlying problem that we can’t seem to get to the bottom of,” explained the Hearts manager Craig Levein.
“He’s been down to Man City, they’ve had a look at him and they can’t find anything either. Hopefully a specialist can provide some clarity on exactly what the problem is.
“It’s the groin area that’s causing the problem. With a loan player, you obviously have to include the parent club in these decisions so we’re talking to Man City just now about seeing what we can do to get to the crux of it.”
Levein watched this weekend’s opponents, Kilmarnock, lose 3-0 to Hibs at Rugby Park on Tuesday night. It was the Ayrshire club’s first defeat under new manager Steve Clarke following 1-1 draws away to both Celtic and Rangers.
“I saw them on Tuesday night and I saw them last midweek against Rangers,” said Levein. “Steve obviously has them well organised as the first two games showed. It seems to be their intent to hit on the counter-attack. I expect pretty much the same thing come Sunday against us.”
Levein believes Clarke is a shrewd appointment by the Kilmarnock board. “I’ve been in the situation myself where you’re not working. It becomes frustrating,” he said. “There are temptations to get back into work. Kilmarnock was a situation where he probably felt he could make improvements so it’s no bad decision at all.”
• Hearts Under-20s lost 4-3 away to Ross County in the Development League. The Wee Jambos’ scorers were Dario Zanatta, Christopher Hamilton and Angus Beith.