Craig Beattie in line for Hearts debut against Rangers

CRAIG BEATTIE is in line for a Hearts debut against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday. The striker is expected to feature at some stage of the match after improving his fitness and scoring twice in a training match on Tuesday.

With attacking options conspicuous by their absence for manager Paulo Sergio, Beattie will be named in the squad to face Rangers and will most likely start on the substitutes’ bench.

Hearts have managed only one goal in their last five league games but would be buoyed by the inclusion of the 28-year-old Scotland internationalist. Beattie has trained for almost two weeks at Riccarton and is eager to take his first-team bow this weekend. His last competitive match was for Watford on December 3, where he played on loan from Swansea City against Ipswich Town. Now, three months later, he is ready to begin his Tynecastle career after signing a short-term contract until the end of the season.

Ian Black is also hopeful of facing Rangers despite suffering with injured ribs. His fitness will be assessed tomorrow, along with that of captain Marius Zaliukas and midfielder Adrian Mrowiec. All three would be expected to start at Ibrox provided they can prove their fitness.

Meanwhile, Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold was left perplexed after on-loan Hearts striker John Sutton missed a penalty in the New South Wales-based clubs’s 1-0 defeat by Melbourne Hearts.

Arnold said Sutton surprised him by stepping up to the spot in the 55th minute ahead of the Mariners’ regular penalty taker, Patrick Zwaanswijk.

“I’ll ask the question behind closed doors because Patrick is normally our penalty taker,” said Arnold. “I haven’t seen him take a penalty before, so I was surprised.”