Hearts v Rangers team news and probable line-ups: Three could return for Hearts | defender a doubt | Rangers without key pair

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Everything you need to know prior to Sunday's match

Typically a contest against Rangers, especially in the form they're in this season, is viewed as something of a free hit for clubs like Hearts. However, given the current predicament of the Tynecastle club and the fact they could be as much as seven points adrift by the start of play, they must go into this one determined to get a result.

That won't be easy. Even though Hearts have denied Rangers three points before this campaign, they are one of only three clubs to do so. Steven Gerrard's men are on course to break the 100 points barrier this campaign.

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Hearts, meanwhile, haven't won a league game since defeating St Mirren all the way back in early November, while Wednesday's disappointing performance in the 0-0 draw with Ross County proved the winter break didn't provide Daniel Stendel with the time to find a magic formula that would immediately transform the team's fortunes.

Steven Naismith and Ryan Jack during the Betfred Cup semi-final between the sides. Picture: SNSSteven Naismith and Ryan Jack during the Betfred Cup semi-final between the sides. Picture: SNS
Steven Naismith and Ryan Jack during the Betfred Cup semi-final between the sides. Picture: SNS

Hearts team news: The home side are hopeful of having Michael Smith, Aaron Hickey and Clevid Dikamona all fit for Sunday. The former two missed the trip to Ross County after being forced off during the Scottish Cup clash with Airdrieonians, while Dikamona suffered cramp in Wednesday's match. Sean Clare returns from suspension. Jamie Brandon and Peter Haring are long-term absentees, while Christophe Berra continues to train with the reserves. Hearts are trying to push through the transfers of Toby Sibbick and Liam Boyce so they'll be available for selection.

Probable Hearts line-up: Pereira; Clare, Souttar, Halkett, Garuccio; Avdijaj, Smith, Irving, Henderson; Naismith, Ikpeazu.

Rangers team news: Alfredo Morelos serves the final match of his suspension and won't be available. The same goes for James Tavernier and Filip Helander, who will miss the game through injury. Greg Stewart remains a doubt having missed the first two fixtures of 2020.

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Probable Rangers line-up: McGregor; Flanagan, Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Davis, Jack, Kamara; Aribo, Defoe, Kent

Key clash: Hearts can neither be too open nor too wasteful with the ball, which is why their centre-midfield duo will be vital to this one. With the identity of his partner still unknown, a lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of young Andy Irving. The 19-year-old will have to keep a cool head in possession, while also ensuring Rangers aren't able to cut Hearts open through the centre. Ryan Jack will be a big player for the visitors. Excellent throughout the season, the Scottish international missed the last game at Tynecastle through injury.

Last meeting: Hearts were humiliated in Glasgow, losing 5-0 as they badly exposed at the back time and time again.

Match details: Sunday, 26 January. Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh. Kick-off 3pm. Live on Sky Sports main event.

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Referee: It'll be the first time Steven McLean referees a Hearts fixture this season, though Rangers have seen the whistler as recently as Boxing Day as he oversaw their 1-0 win over Kilmarnock.

Odds: Hearts 17/2 Draw 15/4 Rangers 1/3