Hearts to ask Liam Boyce key question before Dundee United match

Liam Boyce is training with Hearts ahead of Saturday’s match with Dundee United but the striker faces an important question over his availablity.

By Barry Anderson
Friday, 5th November 2021, 7:00 am
Hearts striker Liam Boyce is pushing to return from injury.

A calf injury precluded him from the last two games against St Johnstone and Aberdeen, hence management at Riccarton don’t want to damage their top goalscorer by rushing him back.

Boyce has done some work with the squad this week and manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News he is hopeful of the player returning. However, a full risk assessment will be carried out first, including gathering the player’s own thoughts.

“I think he will be available,” said Neilson. “The question will be: ‘Is it worth the risk? Is it worth putting him in there?’ Ultimately it will come down to Liam and we will say: ‘Do you think you’ve got 60 minutes in you?’

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“He will know himself. He’s a 30-year-old international player. We can speak to the physios and they can do the treatment but only he knows if he is ready. At the moment he has done some training and running. He looks like he could be ready.

“I spoke to him and we will have another chat. If Boycie says, ‘I feel really good, I’m ready to rumble,’ then he will play. If he doesn’t feel right then he won’t.”

Boyce has ten goals in 15 games for Hearts so far this season and is an integral part of the Edinburgh club’s attack. French forward Armand Gnanduillet deputised in the last two matches – a 1-1 draw in Perth and a 2-1 defeat at Pittodrie.

“He [Boyce] is our top goalscorer. You know he’s one of our better players but, with the way we play, whoever comes in should know what they’re doing.

“It’s the same system, sometimes you need to adapt it, depending on the type of player, but no club is going to have an exact like-for-like match to bring on that does the same thing.

“So the game has to change a wee bit for us. The guys that have come in in these positions have done well, yes we’ve maybe not got a result, but sometimes it’s not all down to them.

“Three or four years ago [Celtic] was the first invincible team for a long time – 50 years or something. It shows you that teams lose games, that’s football. Sometimes you go out there and it doesn’t click. It did not click last week but we need to make sure it does on Saturday.”

Remembrance weekend carries great significance at Tynecastle given the number of Hearts players who lost their lives fighting in World War I.

“It’s one of the key ones for us,” said Neilson. “You get the derby games, you get Remembrance. It’s always a good atmosphere and you always expect to get a win in them.

Dundee United have played really well and picked up some good results. They’re a pretty solid team when you watch them. They have two experienced centre-halves, in midfield they have a lot of energy and good pace in the wide areas. You look at the balance of the team, it’s very good.”

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