Hearts skipper Christophe Berra targets return against Rangers next month

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Hearts captain Christophe Berra is targeting next month’s home game with Rangers for an ambitious comeback from injury – and striker Steven Naismith could also return before Christmas.

Berra was told he would miss six months after tearing a hamstring in August but his recovery has been rapid and he is desperate to return to action with the Premiership leaders. His aim is to be ready to face Rangers at Tynecastle on Sunday, December 2 – two months ahead of schedule.

Christophe Berra suffered a torn hamstring in August

Christophe Berra suffered a torn hamstring in August

Naismith is out with a knee problem which flared up in last month’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Celtic. Hearts hope he will be fit not long after Berra in what would be a major pre-Christmas boost for manager Craig Levein.

“Christophe is the closest to being back out of all the injured players,” Levein told the Evening News. “He is targeting the Rangers game, although the physios haven’t confirmed that to me. He seems to be doing well and has done a lot of work.

“I wasn’t expecting him back until the winter break. If I can get him and Naisy back next month I will be delighted. Even for opponents looking at our teamsheet and seeing the names of Berra and Naismith in the team, it makes a big difference.

“Having those two back will help the rest of the players and give our supporters a boost. The opposition will be looking at it and thinking: ‘They are two internationalists with 40-odd Scotland caps each.’ That would be a real bonus for me and for everybody else.”

• Hearts duo Michael Smith and Aaron Hughes have been selected for Northern Ireland’s matches against the Republic of Ireland on November 15, and Austria three days later. And right-back Marcus Godinho is in the Canada squad for their upcoming fixture against St Kitts and Nevis.