Igor Rossi to be nursed through Hearts matches

Igor Rossi leaves the pitch after picking up an injury
Igor Rossi leaves the pitch after picking up an injury
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Igor Rossi will be nursed through Hearts’ next two matches to ensure he doesn’t aggravate a groin strain. Coaching staff want the Brazilian to reach the international break at the end of the month and rest for two weeks in an effort to cure the injury.

Rossi was substituted 11 minutes from the end of Saturday’s win over Partick Thistle after going down in pain. He will be managed carefully through the next two games against Dundee and St Johnstone to ensure the groin problem doesn’t worsen.

Hearts face a potentially pivotal week against Celtic, Inverness and Aberdeen after the international break and Rossi is a key figure in defence. Head coach Robbie Neilson explained today that medical staff will keep a close eye on the player.

“Igor’s been struggling for the last couple of weeks to be honest,” Neilson said. “He’s got a wee groin strain so we’re just trying to manage him through to the international break and then he gets a fortnight’s rest.

“That will help him for games after that but he’ll be fine for this Saturday. We’ll help him through it. He’s a good player and he gives us stability. He’s a good defender so we’ll nurse him through the next two games and then get him ready for the run-in. Everyone else is fine for the weekend.”

Neilson wants Rossi in place at Dens Park as he is wary of Dundee’s attacking threat. “Going forward, they’re one of the best in the league,” he admitted. “You’ve got Harkins, Loy, Hemmings and Stewart. That’s four boys who are very attack-minded. They score a lot of goals but we think we can get at them defensively.

“Dundee are one of those teams who, if they get on top, they can rout teams. Their form has been a wee bit up and down recently. They had a good run and then they had a difficult day at Ibrox last week [losing 4-0 in the Scottish Cup].

“You don’t know how they’re going to react to losing against Rangers. It was the Scottish Cup and their major priority will be the league, so it will be back to business against us. We’re going there looking for three points.”

Hearts are set to continue with Arnaud Djoum in an attacking midfield role after his winning goal against Thistle. The Cameroonian has scored six times in 22 appearances since arriving at Tynecastle last September.

“He’s definitely been one of our prominent players this season,” said Neilson. “He’s shown his attacking side by scoring goals but he’s been a key player because of his general play. I’m really pleased we got him in. He is an attacking threat but it’s important we have a balance. On Saturday, we had three of them in midfield with Djoum, Prince Buaben and Don Cowie. I thought they all worked well together.”