Hearts hope midfielders Joaquim Adao and Don Cowie will both recover fully from injury in time to face Rangers.
The players have managed some light training this week after head and knee problems respectively and are fighting to make Sunday’s squad.
Adao suffered concussion against Dundee three weeks ago and missed Hearts’ last match, the 2-0 home win over Aberdeen, as a result. Cowie is nursing a knee problem sustained in that match.
With both players showing signs of progress, manager Craig Levein is hopeful they can feature at Ibrox. “We have had players with little niggles so we’re hoping this two-week break will help them to get over their issues,” he told the Evening News. “Joaquim has been back on the grass doing some running after his concussion. Don has had a small issue with his knee. He hurt the knee in our last match but it seems to have settled down. He’s been on the grass running as well so I’m hopeful he will be fine for Sunday.”
Levein insists Rangers’ turmoil should not affect Hearts’ preparation for the trip to Glasgow. Graeme Murty’s side suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat by Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final last week and have since suspended captain Lee Wallace and striker Kenny Miller for misconduct.
Hearts haven’t won in their last five visits to Ibrox and Levein insists Rangers will have plenty motivation. “Going to Ibrox is difficult at all times so we’re not expecting an easy ride at all,” he said. “Rangers are still competing with Hibs and Aberdeen for second spot, so they have plenty to play for.”