Hearts injury latest on John Souttar, Josh Ginnelly and Craig Halkett ahead of Motherwell game
Three Hearts players are recovering from injuries and pressing to be involved in Saturday’s Premiership match with Motherwell.
Defender Craig Halkett has trained all week after being withdrawn with a head knock late in last week’s 3-0 win against Livingston. Winger Josh Ginnelly also has a clean bill of health after missing the last two matches with an ankle complaint.
Centre-back John Souttar remains a slight doubt having trained at Riccarton on Thursday. He sat out the Livingston game with a tight thigh and a decision on his availability will be made in the next 24 hours.
“Souttar trained a bit today and we will make a decision tomorrow,” said Robbie Neilson, the Hearts manager. “Halkett is okay and trained all week, Gino [Ginnelly] is fine as well. We just gave him an extra week.”
Souttar did not make the Scotland squad for forthcoming World Cup qualifiers and Neilson said he is content to let the defender continue playing at club level for now.
Hearts confirm nature of Craig Halkett's injury after Zurich tie
Hearts sign Jamaican international defender as Sunday clash with Rangers rescheduled
Predicted Hearts starting XI for Sunday's clash against Celtic - with several changes expected ahead of Zurich clash
Hibs: Lee Johnson facing Marijan Čabraja dilemma after family bereavement in lead-up to Rangers clash
'Europe exemplified weaknesses, nothing in midfield, we can win it at packed Tynecastle': Hearts fans react to FC Zurich defeat
Asked if he was disappointed Souttar was not included by national coach Steve Clarke, Neilson replied: “For him as a friend, yes. As one of my players, no. If he keeps himself in the team and playing for us then all the better.”
As they prepare to travel to Ibrox in two weeks’ time, Hearts have written to the Scottish Professional Football League requesting clarity on rules regarding away fans. Motherwell have also demanded answers on the same subject.
Neither Rangers nor Celtic are permitting travelling supporters inside their stadiums and Hibs manager Jack Ross, whose team visit Ibrox on Sunday, labelled the situation “unhealthy for the league”.
“It’s really important we get fans into away games. I don’t know what others are saying or what the process is but from my perspective the sooner they’re back in the better,” said Neilson.
"You saw the atmosphere at the Edinburgh derby was absolutely brilliant because we had 16,000 home fans and 3,500 away supporters. It’s really important for the game.
“I don’t know the ins and outs of it or the reasons why we are still not getting them in, but the sooner we get them all back in the better because it’s what football is all about.”
The Glasgow clubs cited Covid red zones as the issue, which they claim forces them to accommodate season ticket holders in areas normally reserved for away supporters. The task for visiting teams then becomes harder without any fans in the ground.
“It can work both ways but I just think first and foremost for the fans,” continued Neilson. “We have fans who have been going to every single game for 30-40 years. Now they can’t go.
“It’s very difficult for them after 18 months when they couldn’t go to any matches and now for some reason they can’t go to some away games.
“It’s also important for an atmosphere. If you go to a big ground and score a last-minute winner and there’s no fans for you, then it deflates the whole place. So the sooner we get them back the better.”