Hearts v Airdrieonians team news and probable line-ups: Stendel wants first win | 4-4-2 |Naismith and Washington in attack?
A look ahead to Hearts' Scottish Cup fourth round clash with League One opposition
Hearts return to action following the winter break by welcoming bogey team Airdrieonians to Tynecastle on Saturday in the Scottish Cup fourth round (kick-off 3pm).
Daniel Stendel will be hoping to pick up his first win in charge of the Gorgie side at the sixth time of asking ahead of the Scottish Premiership action starting up again on Wednesday.
It has been a tumultuous January so far at Tynecastle as the German made, and continues to make, significant moves to shape the squad for a relegation battle in the second half of the campaign, starting with a trip to Ross County which follows the Airdire game.
He has been boosted by the return of a number of key individuals, while he attempts to bring in more quality in attack.
The visitors are performing well in League One under the stewardship of ex-Hibs captain Ian Murray and his assistant Colin Cameron, a 1998 Scottish Cup winning legend with Hearts.
Airdrie sit third in the league, two points off the summit and will fancy their chances of an upset, going on past encounters between the sides.
Hearts team news: Steven Naismith, Jamie Walker and John Souttar have returned to the first-team squad and should all be involved on Saturday. Centre-back Craig Halkett picked up a knock in training during the week but Stendel doesn't think there will be a problem. Ryotaro Meshino has returned after being on international duty with Japan's U23s. Peter Haring continues his rehabilitation. Craig Wighton, Jake Mulraney and Christophe Berra are with the reserves.
Probable Hearts XI: Pereira; Clare, Halkett, Souttar, Hickey; Henderson, Smith, Irving, Walker; Naismith, Washington.
Probable Airdrie XI: Hutton; MacDonald, Crighton, Fordyce, McCann; Millar, McKay; Smith, Roberts, Carrick; Gallagher.
Key clash: The Diamond's centre-back duo of Sean Crighton and Callum Fordyce are a solid pairing in League One and play a key role in the spine of the side. Hearts have been struggling for goals but the likelihood is Steven Naismith will be paired with Conor Washington. The differing qualities of the two international forwards should have enough to pull apart the third tier defensive duo.
Last meeting: Hearts went out of the League Cup to Airdrie United - before they changed their name back - on penalties in 2008. Csaba Laszlo's side lacked a cutting edge as they failed to find a way past Stephen Robertson in the visitor's goal at Tynecastle on an August evening in front of fewer than 7,000 fans. David Obua's meek penalty to hand Airdrie the win epitomised the side's inability in front of goal on the night. The Hearts team: Kello; Karipidis, Zaliukas, Berra, Lee Wallace; Mikoliunas (Cesnauskis), Stewart, Jonsson, Obua, Kingston (Ksanavicius); Mole (Nade)
Match details: Saturday, 18 January. Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh. Kick-off 3pm. Airdire have sold out their allocation. Home briefs are available from the Hearts ticket office and website.
Referee: Don Robertson (78 yellow cards and 8 red cars in 21 games in all competitions) - The whistler sent off Aaron Hickey at Aberdeen earlier in the season. He also oversaw Hearts' 5-0 defeat at Rangers.
Match odds: Hearts 32/100 Draw 4/1 Airdrie 17/2