OSMAN SOW is ready to return to Edinburgh for a Hearts swansong against Hibs on Sunday.
New signing John Souttar is also available to play in the Scottish Cup fifth-round tie.
Sow is currently in China finalising a £1m-plus move to Henan Jianye but is expected back in Scotland by the end of the week. Barring any hitches, he will make his last appearance in a Hearts shirt in the Edinburgh derby before bidding farewell to Tynecastle.
The Scottish Football Association have confirmed that Souttar is eligible to face Hibs despite being named amongst Dundee United’s substitutes against Airdrie in the previous round. As he didn’t play, Scottish Cup rules state he is not cup-tied.
The 19-year-old, who signed a three-and-a-half-year contract minutes before the transfer window closed on Monday night, could now be on the bench for Hearts this weekend. Fellow new recruits Abiola Dauda and Don Cowie are also available.
Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach, stressed he is eager to have Sow in his team for one last time.
“That’s part of the deal with the Chinese club,” he told the Evening News. “We’re expecting him back later in the week and then we’ll make a decision about what we’re going to do with him. He’ll be available. It would be great to have him back for the derby and then send him off with a win.”
Henan Jianye are prepared to pay a seven-figure sum for Sow despite the Swede’s contract having less than six months left. “Osman has done fantastically well for us. He’s a great guy and I’m really pleased for him,” said Neilson. “It’s a great opportunity for him and a great deal for the club. We’re just waiting for it to go through now.
“Osman drifted about a few clubs for a while and found it difficult to play. He came to Hearts on trial, was outstanding, signed on a very low wage and now he’s going to China to play in a big league for big money. This is what we want to do. Not only do we want to promote players from our own academy, we want to bring guys in from outwith that and develop them. They can then move on if we’re happy and the player is happy.”
In a further boost for Hearts supporters, winger Jamie Walker is in contention to feature against Hibs. He will play 45 minutes for the under-20s against Dundee United this afternoon after recovering from knee surgery. He hasn’t played for the first team since October 28 last year. He’s playing 45 minutes for the under-20s today and he’s looking very fit,” reported Neilson. “Our sports scientist has done a lot of work with Jamie over the last fortnight and he’s looking as good as he’s ever been. He just needs some game time now so he’ll get that today. Then he should be ready for Sunday.”