Hearts face sweat over Steven Naismith fitness ahead of Motherwell Betfred Cup clash

Steven Naismith in action against Ross County at Tynecastle
Steven Naismith in action against Ross County at Tynecastle
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Hearts are hopeful that Steven Naismith will win his fitness race before Friday night's Betfred Cup tie at Motherwell.

The talismanic forward made his first start in maroon for nearly six months during last weekend's stalemate with Ross County, but he was substituted at half time as a precaution, with manager Craig Levein telling the Evening News: "His hamstring was feeling a bit tight so I didn't want to take any risks

"I don't know if he will be okay for next week but, certainly, he came off before there were any major problems."

Despite tests showing no serious damage, the 32-year-old remains "a major doubt" for Friday night's trip to North Lanarkshire, according to The Sun.

Levein has the likes of Uche Ikpeazu, Steven MacLean and Conor Washington at his disposal but Naismith's absence will be a blow for the Jambos if the former Rangers and Everton man fails to prove his fitness ahead of the tie.