Hearts manager Craig Levein insists John Souttar was correct to forego a Scotland debut, but he is now hoping the defender does not miss the start of pre-season training.
An injury affecting the hip and hamstring forced Souttar to withdraw from Scotland’s trip to Peru and Mexico after his first senior international call-up. The problem has settled and fears over the need for an operation have reduced.
However, Levein said Souttar is taking time to heal completely and coaching staff are hoping he will be fit for pre-season training starting in two weeks’ time. Last season saw the 21-year-old enjoy his most consistent campaign so far for Hearts and Levein wants his momentum to continue.
“The injury has settled down so it will take time. It’s improving for sure,” Levein told the Evening News. “John not going away with the Scotland squad was very sensible. We need him to be right and he needs to be right. If he improves next season like he did last season, then we’ll all be thrilled.
“Once players start improving, I like them to have continuity. John has already had a problem with his Achilles last year, which set him back a little bit. I think he deserves a run of games without any interruptions. I’m 100 per cent sure he will get better if he gets that, just because of his character and how laid back and confident he is in general. I’m hoping this injury isn’t anything we have to worry about. We hope it just calms down and he joins us for pre-season training.”