Key Hearts duo in the running to return for Celtic match

John Souttar and Steven Naismith share a joke in training
John Souttar and Steven Naismith share a joke in training
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Key Hearts players Steven Naismith and John Souttar both have an outside chance of returning from injury for Sunday’s Premiership trip to Celtic.

The two players are back running at Riccarton after respective hamstring and ankle injuries sustained earlier this month. If they progress rapidly, they could be involved at the weekend.

Failing that, manager Craig Levein will welcome striker Naismith and defender Souttar back into his squad for the following weekend’s match against Hamilton at Tynecastle Park.

“Naisy might make the weekend. If not, he will make the Hamilton game. John is the same,” Levein told the Evening News. “Both of them are back running this week so it just depends how quickly they can go from running to contact training.

“If they can do that later on this week, then they will have a chance of playing on Sunday. It would be a massive boost to get those two back so we will keep our fingers crossed we can get them both on the field as 
quickly as possible.”

Naismith’s return is particularly timely following the news that fellow forward Jamie Walker will miss several months with a broken leg. “It’s a blow losing Jamie when he was just starting to get up to full speed,” continued Levein.

“I really feel sorry for him because he wasn’t 100 per cent when he arrived after having the operation earlier in the year. He had used the games to get fit and I felt his performances were improving with his fitness. Now he’s out.

“Who would have thought Jamie Walker would break his leg making a goal-saving challenge at the other end of the field? Hopefully we have the players to compensate.

“Jamie has been doing well but arguably it would be a step up for us if we brought Steven in to replace Jamie. We are in a better position this year, so I don’t feel so worried about the injuries.”