Hearts have confirmed Peter Haring has returned to full training, but defender Michael Smith will be sidelined for up to eight weeks after suffering a torn thigh muscle.
The Austrian midfielder has handed the Jambos a boost after stepping up his recovery from double hernia surgery. He hasn’t featured since Hearts’ 1-0 win against Hibs at the end of December, when he was forced off early in the second half.
While he is unlikely to make Sunday’s Premiership trip to Motherwell, he could return to action the following week against St Mirren.
“Peter has done a lot of training,” said Hearts boss Craig Levein. “He trained with the first team and did some extra stuff with the conditioning coaches the other day. “I don’t think he’ll be ready for this weekend. It will more likely be the following week.”
However, Smith’s injury robs Hearts of one of their most consistent players until April.
Scans confirmed the damage after the Northern Irishman limped off near the end of Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie against Auchinleck Talbot. Levein added: “It’s probably eight weeks we’re looking at. We certainly don’t like seeing players injured, but we do have cover. “We have Marcus Godinho and Jamie Brandon back who can come in for Michael and they have both played and played well,” he said. “I have been pleased with Marcus when he has played so I have no complaints there.”
Describing Smith’s injury as “complicated”, Levein revealed there was tendon damage as well as the torn muscle.
“He has torn his thigh muscle; it’s a grade two tear but there’s a bit of tendon damage as well so it’s a bit more complicated. It will keep him out for a fairly lengthy period of time. “It’s a blow for us to lose Michael but we just have to get on with it. There is nothing else for it.”
Smith recently extended his Hearts contract until May 2021 but will now be missing as the Edinburgh club enter an important period of the season.
They are challenging for a European spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership and face Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals next month.