Hearts striker Uche Ikpeazu is in a race to be fit in time for Wednesday night’s Betfred Cup quarter-final at home to Motherwell.
The influential 23-year-old missed Saturday’s goalless draw with Livingston at Tynecastle with a foot injury sustained in the challenge with Well goalkeeper Trevor Carson in the lead-up to Hearts’ winning goal in the Premiership match between the teams at Fir Park nine days ago.
Ikpeazu will be monitored this week as Hearts medics seek to establish whether he is equipped to return against the Lanarkshire side this week.
“As the week wore on, he tried it two or three times and it was getting better, but it obviously wasn’t at the point where he was able to play,” said manager Craig Levein. “We’re hoping he’ll be alright for Wednesday.”
Captain John Souttar, meanwhile, has called on his team-mates to respond to the disappointment of losing their 100 per cent record in the league on Saturday by making sure Hearts secure a place in the semi-final of a national cup competition for the first time since they reached the final of the League Cup in 2013.
“A club like Hearts have to win cups, simple as that,” said the centre-back. “This is a great chance for us. It’s important to try and get the win and get to Hampden. That would top off the start to the season for me if we could get there and have that to look forward to. I’ve never been there with Hearts, so that would be brilliant. We’ve not had too many cup runs recently so I think the club and the fans would thrive on it if we could get to Hampden. You saw the scenes in 2012 (after the Scottish Cup final victory over Hibs). It would be great to get to a final but the full focus is on Wednesday. Motherwell are no pushovers at all, they’re a good team.”