Key Hearts player hit with a suspension for the first three games of the Premiership season

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Tynecastle club start the campaign at St Johnstone this Saturday

Hearts defender Alex Cochrane is suspended for the first three games of the Premiership season, the Evening News can reveal. The Englishman was sent off three times last term and consequently incurred a ban totalling three matches for the start of the 2023/24 campaign.

He will sit out Saturday’s opening-weekend trip to St Johnstone, plus the fixture with Kilmarnock at Tynecastle Park eight days later, and finally the visit to Dundee scheduled for Saturday, August 26. It is a blow for both player and club after Cochrane made 46 appearances in total last year and established himself as a first-team regular.

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He received a red card in the final game of the 2022/23 campaign against Hibs at Tynecastle. Referee Don Robertson initially issued him a yellow card for fouling Chris Cadden in the first half, but after a VAR review that was changed to a red for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.

The dismissal triggered an automatic one-match ban for Cochrane which applies to Hearts’ next league fixture – Saturday’s visit to Perth. Because he was sent off twice previously last season, both against Celtic, a further two matches are added to his suspension under Scottish Football Association disciplinary rules.

That leaves Cochrane unable to play in any league games for the Edinburgh club until September. He will, however, be available for Europa Conference League qualifying ties and the Viaplay Cup last-16 match at home to Partick Thistle on August 20.