Surprise return on the cards as Hearts prepare to strengthen the spine of their team for St Mirren trip
Three key Hearts players could return against St Mirren this weekend, including centre-back Craig Halkett.
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon and top goalscorer Liam Boyce should both be available having missed Saturday’s loss at St Johnstone due to positive Covid tests. Their seven-day isolation will be over before Hearts head to Paisley.
Halkett’s hamstring injury has responded to treatment and he began running at Riccarton over the weekend. He was not expected back until next month but, if he manages to train fully without without any reaction this week, he could find himself back in the centre of Hearts’ defence.
“We'll have Gordon back, we'll have Boyce back and we're hoping to have Halkett back,” manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News. “That's three players coming back in right down the spine of the team, which will make a difference.
“Halkett did some running over the weekend so we are going to push him as hard as we can and try to have him ready for Saturday.”
Michael Smith’s injury means he is still doubtful after also missing the St Johnstone match. Hearts suffered a 2-1 defeat in Perth and were criticised for some poor defending at both goals, scored by Ali Crawford and Jamie McCart.
Halkett’s return would be a timely boost in that respect. The defender has missed the last month since limping off near the end of the 2-1 home loss against Celtic on January 26.
He has enjoyed an impressive season in the centre of Hearts’ back three and signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract last month.