Hearts welcome captain Steven Naismith back from injury
Hearts captain Steven Naismith has returned to training, with coaching staff hoping his experience can help secure the Championship title.
The 34-year-old forward rejoined his team-mates for sessions at Riccarton with five games remaining in the campaign. The Edinburgh club require just two wins to guarantee automatic promotion back to the Premiership.
Naismith missed the last five matches with a calf problem, including the Scottish Cup exit at Brora Rangers and last Saturday’s home defeat by Queen of the South.
Those results, in tandem with some poor performances and scorelines over the season, saw pressure increase on the Hearts manager Robbie Neilson and owner Ann Budge as fans’ vented their anger.
Naismith’s return is eagerly awaited and it remains to be seen if he will be part of Neilson’s squad for Saturday’s trip to Dunfermline.
“Naisy is back training with us so we're looking forward to having his influence back in the group,” Neilson told the Evening News. “That’s one of the most important things is getting guys like that in among the players.
“That’s why we brought John Souttar in with us as well, to give us that push. He is continuing to progress.”
Souttar has missed more than a year of football due to successive Achilles ruptures. He returned to the substitutes’ bench in Brora last week and is hopeful of playing at some point before the campaign finishes at the end of April.
He is not expected to feature until Hearts have won the title and cemented their place back in the Premiership.