HEARTS have decided against loaning out striker Gary Oliver following news that Soufian El Hassnaoui is out for four months. Head coach Robbie Neilson confirmed today that Oliver will stay and will fight for a first-team place alongside fellow forwards Osman Sow, Juanma and Gavin Reilly.
Medical scans revealed a tear in El Hassnaoui’s posterior cruciate ligament, meaning he is sidelined until November. He sustained the injury in Saturday’s friendly defeat at Preston. Neilson was contemplating sending Oliver on loan to a Championship club but the 20-year-old will now stay.
“It changes my thinking about Gary Oliver going on loan. We’ll keep a hold of Gary now. He’ll stay in the squad and we’ll deal with it that way,” Neilson told the Evening News.
“Soufian’s going to be out for a few months because he’s popped his knee. It’s not the main cruciate, the anterior, it’s a tear in the posterior. If one of them is going to go then this is probably the best one but it’s still very disappointing.
“It should be four months maximum. With a posterior cruciate, you don’t operate. It’s just conservative treatment. He’ll be in a brace for six to eight weeks and then he can start doing functions from there.
“It’s a shame for him because he’s been troubled by injuries since he came to Hearts and it’s through no fault of his own. These things happen and we just need to help him through.”
El Hassnaoui missed parts of last season with groin and ankle injuries after joining Hearts on a three-year contract from Sparta Rotterdam last summer. This latest problem has come at the worst possible time for the player, with the new Scottish Premiership season about to begin.