Hearts are set to appeal the red card issued to Kyle Lafferty in Saturday’s goalless draw against Aberdeen.
If successful, the club’s top scorer will be free to face Hibs in the Scottish Cup later this month.
Club officials have reviewed footage of Lafferty’s challenge from behind on Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie and feel he was unfairly dismissed by referee John Beaton.
He received a straight red card for serious foul play two minutes from the end at Pittodrie. The Northern Irishman will now miss the Scottish Cup fourth-round tie with Edinburgh rivals Hibs on January 21 unless Hearts can get the decision overturned.
A serious foul play offence carries an automatic two-game ban, ruling Lafferty out of the Hibs cup tie and the first Premiership match after the winter break against Hamilton. He was already due to miss the Hamilton fixture as a result of six bookings earlier in the campaign.
Hearts are hoping a Scottish Football Association appeals panel will, at the very least, downgrade Saturday’s red card to a yellow.
“It made it even more difficult when Kyle went off,” admitted manager Craig Levein after watching his team set a new club record of six successive clean sheets.
“He was chasing back and when you tackle from a recovering position like that, you leave yourself open. I thought it was really harsh because he’s just missed the ball and no more.
“It’s a particularly sour note for him. We’ve finished and we’re off for a break but he’s got that in his memory. He knows he’ll miss the cup tie as well.”
Levein acclaimed his team as they head into the new year on the back of a nine-game unbeaten run. The historic sequence of clean sheets was achieved despite key players including Arnaud Djoum, Jamie Walker, Connor Randall, Prince Buaben and Ross Callachan all sitting out injured.
“It is the first time in the club’s history and I told the players their names are in the record books,” he said.
“It was a real tough match for us and the players deserve great credit as their work rate was fantastic. We had good chances to win the game as well.
“Our goalkeeper made three really good saves too but I would argue our chances were better and, had things gone our way, it could have been a different outcome.
“Pittodrie is a really difficult place to go and get points, particularly just now. Since the confusion of whether Derek McInnes was leaving or staying has been sorted, they’ve been fantastic and with seven players out we did well to see it out.”
Reports of Derby County preparing a £1million bid for Hearts defender John Souttar were brushed off by Levein.
“I couldn’t rule anything out but I haven’t heard anything. If he keeps improving, I don’t think he’ll need to worry about Championship clubs,” commented the manager.