East Fife v Hearts preview: Striker injured | midfielder set to return from injury | visitors on brink of qualification

Hearts will travel to East Fife on Saturday afternoon for the final match in the Betfred Cup group stage.

Friday, 26th July 2019, 1:29 pm
Christophe Berra in action as Hearts defeated East Fife in the competition two years ago.

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The late comeback against Stenhousemuir in the last match makes the task of getting to the knockout stages of the competition a little easier as Hearts just have to avoid defeat to seal their place as group winners.

Nevertheless, a victory will be demanded by the Tynecastle support, who still booed their team off the park on Wednesday despite Craig Halkett's late double.

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Christophe Berra in action as Hearts defeated East Fife in the competition two years ago.

A goal from one or more of the strikers would be a bonus with the league season to kick off the following weekend. None of the men tasked with finding the back of the net have managed to do so in the three games in the competition thus far.

Possible East Fife team

Hart; Murdoch, Dunlop, Watson, Slattery; Dunsmore, Agnew, Davidson, Watt; Wallace, Dowds. Subs from: Long, Higgins, Denholm, Hunter, Duggan, Bell.

Hearts team news

Hearts will be without striker Conor Washington who sustained an eye injury in the 2-1 win over Stenhousemuir in midweek. Ben Garuccio and Peter Haring remain long-term absentees, Callumn Morrison is still recovering and Olly Lee is in talks about leaving the club to sign for Southend United. Harry Cochrane is back in contention after recovering from a back complaint. Uche Ikpeazu is expected to start.

Possible Hearts team

Zlamal; Halkett, Berra, Souttar; M Smith, Clare, Bozanic, White; Walker, Ikpeazu, Mulraney. Subs from: Doyle, Brandon, Dikamona, Hickey, Burns, Irving, McDonald, Zanatta, Moore, MacLean, Keena, Wighton, Cochrane

Magic number

59 - Shots that Hearts have attempted through their three Betfred Cup games so far. They've scored just five of those.

Key battle

Ross Dunlop against Uche Ikpeazu should be an entertaining battle. The experienced centre-back is well used to dealing with the rough-and-tumble of the lower leagues, having impressed during his time with Queen's Park, Stenhousemuir and the Albion Rovers team that almost defeated Rangers at Ibrox. But he's a little undersized for a central defender, having previously played at full-back, and could find the sheer mass of Ikpeazu difficult to handle.

Referee

This will be the first match involving Hearts that David Munro will have officiated.

Odds

East Fife 7/1 Draw 17/4 Hearts 2/7