Progress report after Craig Halkett and Craig Gordon play in Hearts' latest friendly match

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Defender and goalkeeper are gradually nearing a first-team return

Craig Halkett and Craig Gordon both came through unscathed from Hearts' latest friendly against Queen's Park. The two clubs played a closed-door match at Tynecastle Park on Wednesday, with Halkett and Gordon both playing 45 minutes.

The central defender and goalkeeper have both been absent since last December after suffering serious injuries in the same match against Dundee United. Halkett ruptured a cruciate knee ligament, whilst Gordon suffered a double leg-break.

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Head coach Steven Naismith told the Edinburgh News he is pleased with their progress. "They both played 45 minutes during the week and it was really good for them," he said. "It was a good game and a worthwhile run-out for everybody. All the lads who are back [in training] played, but for those especially it was really valuable. It ticks another one of the boxes for them to keep going.

"They are both at that final stage but, overall, it was a good workout for us as a team. That type of game gives us the feel of what it's like on a matchday rather than just training and trying to implement what we want to do within a training session. It's been a really good week's work."

The match was Halkett's first organised encounter in almost 11 months since injury struck. Gordon had already played two friendly games in recent weeks. Naismith explained that it was an important step for both players, but particularly Halkett as he eases himself back into action. The manager expects both players to be ready for a first-team return around the winter break in January.

"Over the last two weeks since he has been in full training, Halks knows his injury is past now. Effectively, he is no longer injured. It's now about building himself up. He knows that is fine," said Naismith.

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"The next stage is that unpredictability - when he needs to chase back to goal and make a slide-tackle; when he's nudged as he goes up for a header and he lands awkwardly. The last two weeks have been really good for him. The squad has moved on from when he last played competitively so it's important that he picks up all the principles we want to adopt."

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