Mihai Popescu and Andy Halliday set for Hearts debuts on Friday against Partick Thistle

New signings to make their first appearances in maroon
Mihai Popescu is preparing to make his first Hearts appearance.Mihai Popescu is preparing to make his first Hearts appearance.
Mihai Popescu is preparing to make his first Hearts appearance.

New Hearts signings Mihai Popescu and Andy Halliday will make their first appearances for the club in a friendly against Partick Thistle on Friday.

Popescu has been in quarantine since arriving from Dinamo Bucharest, while Halliday signed a two-year contract with Hearts on Monday.

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The Romanian centre-back is to begin training with his new team-mates at Riccarton on Thursday morning and is then due to play from the start against Thistle in Glasgow.

He entered 14 days of self-isolation when he landed in Scotland to comply with coronavirus laws on arrivals from Romania.

He trained and was involved in matches with Dinamo prior to the transfer so is expected to reach full fitness fairly quickly.

Former Rangers midfielder Halliday will also be involved against Partick as Hearts prepare for their competitive season kicking off next week in the Betfred Cup.

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The 28-year-old completed his move to Tynecastle Park as a free agent after being released from Ibrox in May.

Captain Steven Naismith and midfielder Peter Haring are in line to play 45 minutes of Friday’s match as they continue recovering from injury.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson told the Evening News today that he is eager to get Popescu on the pitch and is excited about seeing Halliday in action.

“Mihai will start training on Thursday and then he will get some game time on Friday against Partick,” he said. “I haven't even seen him yet, I've only spoken to him on the phone because he's been in quarantine.

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“We've given him a bike and a fitness programme to do by himself at home. He was training before he came over. He was involved in Dinamo's squad and played as well so he should be in decent shape.

“He's been here for nearly two weeks working by himself so we should be able to get him up to speed quite quickly. He should be involved on Friday. In fact, we will probably play him from the start to get him going.

“Andy has real quality and will add a lot to our midfield. He is at a good age and I’m delighted to get him in and started with us.”

Hearts beat Thistle 2-0 at Tynecastle on Saturday but agreed to another meeting this week after a proposed friendly with Queen’s Park fell through.

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Naismith and Haring will use the game to step up their recoveries from calf and hernia injuries respectively.

"Naismith played 45 minutes for us on Saturday so hopefully we can start him in the game on Friday. Big Peter will probably get the second 45 minutes,” said Neilson.

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