John Souttar is set to be assessed by Hearts medics today after withdrawing from the Scotland squad through injury over the weekend.
The centre-back felt pain in his hip area against Israel on Thursday night before being sent off for a second bookable offence in the 2-1 UEFA Nations League defeat in Haifa.
Although his suspension for the national team doesn’t kick in until the next competitive match against Albania next month, Souttar wasn’t deemed fit enough to participate in last night’s friendly match against Portugal and it was confirmed on Saturday that he had been released from the squad, along with fellow defenders Charlie Mulgrew and Kieran Tierney. The injury is not thought to be anything serious although the situation will become clearer once he is checked over by Hearts’ medical staff.
Manager Craig Levein will be desperate to have his stand-in skipper fit for Saturday’s clash with Aberdeen as he is already without two of his first-choice defenders, with captain Christophe Berra sidelined for another couple of months as he recovers from hamstring surgery and right-back Michael Smith due to serve a suspension against the Dons after being sent off against Rangers a week past Sunday. Centre-back Clevid Dikamona could make his first start for the club in place of Smith at right-back after impressing there as a substitute at Ibrox.
The defensive situation is slightly eased by the fact veteran Aaron Hughes, who is currently in Sarajevo with the Northern Ireland squad ahead of tonight’s UEFA Nations League match against Bosnia and Herzegovina, is back in contention following his recent injury lay-off.