Hearts v Motherwell preview: Six of the best XI to miss out? First league win in over 16 hours? How to watch

It stands at 16 and a half hours. The time which has elapsed since Hearts last won in the Scottish Premiership.

Thursday, 12th September 2019, 11:48 am
Jake Mulraney in action against Motherwell earlier this season - Hearts won 2-1. Picture: SNS
Jake Mulraney in action against Motherwell earlier this season - Hearts won 2-1. Picture: SNS

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Craig Levein's men welcome Motherwell to Tynecastle on Saturday looking to pick up three points since defeating Aberdeen in EH11 last season.

The Steelmen could be welcome opponents with Hearts delivering their best performance of the season in defeating Stephen Robinson's side 2-1 at Fir Park in the Betfred Cup last month.

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Jake Mulraney in action against Motherwell earlier this season - Hearts won 2-1. Picture: SNS

However, they may have to do so with as many as six players, who could be deemed starters, potentially missing through injury.

The two week international break has not been long enough for some of Levein's stars to make it. There are doubts over Steven Naismith after he felt his hamstring while with Scotland.

There could be a start for Ryotaro Meshino after further training with the team and acclimatisation to Scotland.

Motherwell come into the match on a high after they swept aside Hibs 3-0 in the last league fixture before the break. Robinson has the team lined up in a 4-3-3 system with pace and trickery on the wings.

Hearts team news

Peter Haring, Jamie Walker, Craig Wighton and Ben Garuccio all remain out. The game is to come too soon for John Souttar and Joel Pereira. Michael Smith could return after missing the Hamilton Academical match, while Steven Naismith is a doubt with the Edinburgh derby on the horizon.

Bobby Burns could be heading for a Hearts exit. The player has been linked with a switch to Newcastle Jets.

Possible Hearts line up

Doyle; Smith, Halkett, Berra, Hickey; Clare, Irving, Whelan, Mulraney; MacLean Washington. Subs: Zlamal, Brandon, Dikamona, Bozanic, Henderson, Ikpeazu, Morrison

Magic number

168 - The number of day since Hearts lasted tasted success in the league.

Key battle

Liam Donnelly has been a key player for Motherwell this season. The Northern Irishman currently sits joint-top of the scoring charts with Celtic's Ryan Christie. Not bad for a holding midfielder. He plays a big role at the base for the Steelmen. In Steven MacLean, Hearts have the ideal striker for dropping off the front and nullifying Donnelly's influence. In addition, the veteran forward will ask questions going the other way and could help Hearts dominate.

What the manager said

“Motherwell have started the league season fairly well so it will be a test for us,” said Levein. “The season before last, they got to two cup finals. They have started the season well. We probably had our best performance at Fir Park in the Betfred Cup. That level will be needed to get us three points.

“We have to improve our defending so we don’t get in front and then have to worry about losing silly goals. We’ve done a bit of work on that already and we will do more. If we are solid and defend properly, it gives us an opportunity from there to get our confidence back up.

“I’ve seen it with lots of different teams in recent seasons. If you get a couple of results, you are off and running. I’m very confident that will happen.”

Referee

This will be Euan Anderson's second top flight match of the season after overseeing Hibs' 1-0 win over St Mirren on the opening day of the season. He is a name Hearts fans may be unfamiliar with having officiated just three matches for the Jam Tarts - the last back in March 2018, a 3-0 win over Partick Thistle.

How to watch

The game is not available to watch in the UK and Ireland but Hearts TV are providing live coverage of the match to overseas subscribers. There is live audio for fans with a subscription in the UK and Ireland. Tickets for the game are available from the Hearts website. The Evening News will be running a live blog on the game.

Odds

Hearts 5/4 Draw 9/4 Motherwell 21/10