Hearts players get permission to fly to Greece for PAOK Salonika tie after UK visa issues

Tynecastle men are clear for take-off in Europe
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Three Hearts players have been given permission to travel to Greece for Thursday’s European tie against PAOK Salonika following UK visa issues. Japanese striker Kyosuke Tagawa, Costa Rican winger Kenneth Vargas and Australian midfielder Calem Nieuwenhof got the all-clear from the Home Office after missing the trip to Norway earlier this month.

Tagawa and Nieuwenhof could not travel to Trondheim for the away leg against Rosenborg because they were awaiting documents accompanying their visa which would allow them to leave the UK. Vargas was absent because his work permit was not finalised in time.

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All three are now available for this week’s match in the Toumba Stadium as Hearts look to overturn a 2-1 deficit from the first leg at Tynecastle Park. The eventual winner of the Europa Conference League play-off tie will progress to the competition’s lucrative group stage and earn a guaranteed £5million in income.

Nieuwenhof is unlikely to be on the Hearts charter flight which departs Edinburgh for Thessaloniki on Tuesday as he is struggling with a calf injury. However, Tagawa and Vargas are both down to travel and are expected to feature in the match against Răzvan Lucescu’s team.

Winger Barrie McKay sustained a knee injury in the first leg and is not available, whilst midfielders Peter Haring and Jorge Grant were not named in the Tynecastle squad for this round. Haring is injured and Grant is out of favour, although the Englishman did appear as a substitute in Sunday’s league defeat at Dundee. Fellow midfielder Beni Baningime has an outside chance of being involved against PAOK.

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