Hearts mull over defensive options for Motherwell clash

Jordan McGhee is a candidate at left-back for Hearts. Pic: TSPL
Jordan McGhee is a candidate at left-back for Hearts. Pic: TSPL
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Suspensions for both Igor Rossi and Juwon Oshaniwa leave Hearts needing a deputy left-back for this afternoon’s match against Motherwell.

Jordan McGhee is favourite to step in, although fellow youngster Liam Smith is also being considered.

Robbie Neilson, the club’s head coach, is likely to favour the more experienced McGhee over Smith, who has only 11 senior appearances for Hearts. The prospect of a deploying a three-man defence at Fir Park has not been ruled out either.

Rossi will serve a one-match ban after accumulating six league bookings this season. Oshaniwa is precluded because his recent red card against Celtic was his second of the season. That triggered an extra one-game suspension on top of the automatic ban which comes with every dismissal.

Neilson will make a final decision this morning on whether to go with a three or four-man defence at Motherwell and, if a four is chosen, who should play left-back.

He stressed he has full confidence in the options available to him.

“We’ve got McGhee, who has played there several times. Liam Smith can play there as well,” he said. “We can change the formation if we want to and go to a three-man defence, so we wouldn’t need to have a left-back. There are options for us.”

Spanish midfielder Miguel Pallardo is fit after training all week. He injured his knee and had to be substituted in the first half of Hearts’ last match against Inverness but the problem was not serious. “Miguel is fine. The tackle was knee-to-knee so he just had bone bruising. He’s trained all week and he’s in good condition,” 
confirmed Neilson.