Hearts boss Craig Levein admits fitness of Joel Pereira and John Souttar not what he hoped

Hearts don’t expect centre-back John Souttar or goalkeeper Joel Pereira back in time to face Motherwell next week.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 6:00 am
Hearts' on-loan goalkeeper Joel Pereira is back at Manchester United

The pair are recovering from ankle and thigh injuries respectively but are unlikely to be fit for the Lanarkshire side’s Premiership visit to Edinburgh a week tomorrow.

Souttar is back in a protective boot brace after attempting some light work on his ankle. He has not played since suffering the injury at Aberdeen in Hearts’ first league game of the season and was therefore left out of the Scotland squad.

The on-loan Pereira remains under the care of medical staff at parent club Manchester United. He tore a thigh muscle two weeks ago at Celtic Park and Hearts had been hopeful he would return in time to face Motherwell. However, after a scan in the last 48 hours, he will not be risked unless his condition improves rapidly.

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Manager Craig Levein delivered the latest update on both players today. “Joel has got a low-grade muscle tear, which is normally 12 to 14 days,” he said. “Manchester United scanned him again the other day and he has improved but he hasn’t started explosive work yet. That means things like jumping off that leg and kicking.

“They will scan him again next week and, if he has improved, they will send him back up the road to us. However, there will be a process he will need to go through and a certain amount of checks done before they send him back. I think he might struggle for Motherwell. If they aren’t doing that kind of work just now, then it’s unlikely he will be perfect in a week’s time.

“John is back in the boot and resting. He came out of it and tried to do some work and the injury wasn’t quite right, so he’s back in the boot again. I don’t think he will make the Motherwell game either. I don’t expect any of them to be back for Motherwell unless there is a major improvement.”

Striker Craig Wighton has undergone surgery on a persistent knee problem and will be given plenty time to recuperate before resuming first-team training. “Wighton has had a little op so he is still recovering from that,” added Levein.