Hearts v Livingston preview: No Clare, Hughes a doubt

John Souttar, Peter Haring and Michael Smith train hard ahead of the visit of Livingston. Picture: SNS Group
John Souttar, Peter Haring and Michael Smith train hard ahead of the visit of Livingston. Picture: SNS Group
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Hearts host Livingston on Saturday looking to make it six wins out of six in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

New signing Sean Clare is highly unlikely to feature after sealing a switch to Tynecastle but Hearts have no new injury worries. A late call will be made on Aaron Hughes, and long-term absentees Christophe Berra, Jamie Brandon and Marcus Godinho are all still out while Harry Cochrane is nursing a knock.

Craig Levein reckons his current squad is the strongest Hearts team he’s ever assembled, with the acquisition of Clare bringing the total to 18 summer signings.

There are some familiar faces in the opposition squad as well with ex-Jambos Alan Lithgow and Scott Robinson expected to start against their old club.

Livingston have a near-full complement of players and Gary Holt will be able to field the same team that defeated Hibs and Hamilton. Raffa de Vita, Lee Miller and Craig Sibbald will not play through injury.

Bobby Burns is ineligible to face his parent club but Ryan Hardie could be included in the squad pending a fitness test.

Injuries / suspensions / unavailable

Hearts - The Tynecastle side are without the services of Harry Cochrane, Jamie Brandon, Marcus Godinho (all knee) and long-term absentee Christophe Berra (hamstring), while Aaron Hughes is struggling with a calf knock.

Livingston - Bobby Burns is ineligible to face his parent club so misses out while Lee Miller, Craig Sibbald and Rafa De Vita are still sidelined. Holt will make a late call on Ryan Hardie.

Magic number

11 - the number of goals Hearts have scored in the last five meetings between the two sides. Livi have managed two.

Key battle

John Souttar will have his hands full with uncompromising Livi forward Dolly Menga.

Key stats

Livingston have only won twice at Tynecastle - a 3-1 win in November 2001, and a 3-2 win in May 2002. A brace from David Fernandez and a third from Barry Wilson came before a Kevin McKenna consolation and six months later goals from Quino, David Bingham and Wilson were enough to squeeze past Hearts, who replied through Ricardo Fuller and a Stevie Fulton penalty.

Referee

Don Robertson has taken charge of ten Hearts matches with the Jambos winning three, drawing five and losing two. The 31-year-old has shown 18 yellow cards and awarded three penalties in those ten games.

Possible teams

Hearts: Zlamal; Smith, Souttar, Dunne, Mitchell; Haring, Lee; Naismith, Morrison; MacLean, Ikpeazu. Subs from: Doyle, Hamilton, Dikamona, Bozanic, Djoum, McDonald, Hughes, Mulraney, Wighton, Amankwaa.

Livingston: Kelly, Lithgow, Gallagher, Halkett, Byrne, Jacobs, Pittman, Lawless, Lamie, Robinson, Menga. Subs from: Stewart, McMillan, Saunders, Cadden, Lawson, Kaja, Hamilton, Hardie, Knox.

Kick-off: 3pm