Hearts will look for another positive result in Govan when they travel to Rangers on Saturday afternoon. On their last trip, under interim head coach Jon Daly, the Jambos were able to record a respectable 0-0 draw on the third weekend of the season.
The January signings of Jason Cummings and Jamie Murphy have bolstered the Rangers attack, but they’ll be facing off against a side who’ve kept 17 clean sheets in all competitions this campaign and will likely prove to be another tough nut to crack on Saturday.
Manager Craig Levein is hopeful that Steven Naismith will be fit to make the trip to Ibrox this weekend. The striker has been suffering from a hamstring injury and will be assessed after returning to training.
Hearts will be without the services of Arnaud Djoum and Jamie Brandon after the pair both sustained season-ending injuries last week. Djoum ruptured his Achilles in the 1-1 draw with Ross County, while Brandon suffered a knee injury playing in an under-20s game. Both will miss most of 2018.
Another long-term absentee is youngster Rory Currie - he continues to rehab from an injury to his LCL - while January signing Danny Amankwaa has been given extra time to get himself up to full fitness.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Levein “I like going to play these matches against the best teams. I always think it’s a test of character for the players.
“I know Rangers aren’t at their absolute best just now. [Manager] Graeme [Murty] has a work in progress going on there, but they’ve definitely improved since the window.
“They have brought some quality players in so it’s a test for our players to see where they are mentally. A couple of teams have gone there this season and won, so let’s see if we can do that.”
Rangers will be without the services of Ross McCrorie, Ryan Jack, Graham Dorrans and Jordan Rossiter, though former Hearts midfielder Jason Holt returns from suspension.
Last five meetings: Hearts 1-3 Rangers; Rangers 0-0 Hearts; Rangers 2-1 Hearts; Hearts 4-1 Rangers; Rangers 2-0 Hearts
Likely Rangers XI (4-4-1-1): Foderingham; Tavernier, Alves, Martin, John; Candeias, Holt, Goss, Murphy; Windass; Morelos. Subs from: Alnwick, Hodson, Cardoso, Bates, Halliday, Docherty, O’Halloran, Barjonas, Kranjčar, Dalcio, Cummings, Herrera, Dodoo, Miller
Likely Hearts XI (3-5-1-1): McLaughlin; Souttar, Berra, Hughes; Randall, Cowie, Adao, Callachan, Mitchell; Naismith; Lafferty. Subs from: Hamilton, Noring, Smith, Buaben, Cochrane, Moore, McDonald, Henderson, Milinkovic
Referee: John Beaton
Odds: Rangers 11/20 Draw 3/1 Hearts 11/2
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