Osman Sow has declared himself fit for Hearts’ trip to Queen of the South today and is eager to return to goalscoring form.
The Swede has played only twice since tearing a thigh muscle four months ago and last scored in the 5-1 win over Dumbarton on October 18.
Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach, has rested Sow for the last two weekends after the striker complained of tightness in the thigh.
However, he is in the squad for this afternoon’s assignment in Dumfries. Having topped the Scottish Championship goalscoring chart before being sidelined, Sow is keen to resume his lethal early-season form. Tynecastle colleague James Keatings shouldered much of the scoring mantle in his absence, aided by Genero Zeefuik and Jamie Walker. Keatings has amassed ten league goals, Sow has seven. Hibs striker Jason Cummings is the Championship’s top scorer with 11.
“It’s still open. Keatings is up there and I’m coming for him,” laughed Sow. “No, seriously, James has done really well and I’m happy for him.
“If you ask me today, I’m feeling good in my leg but you need to get back into the momentum as well. It’s just about focusing on doing that. At the moment, I’m feeling good. It’s very frustrating being injured. You just have to keep your head down and make the most of every day. I just listened to music and tried to relax while I was out. I like reggae because it’s very calming.
“I went back to Sweden because I couldn’t really do much for a few days. It was better to be with my family than sit here. You get new energy when you go home. You feel the love.”
Sow attended most Hearts matches throughout his protracted rehabilitation period and saw his colleagues continue their dominant form at the top of the table.
“We were still strong during that period, so I’m happy about that,” he continued. “Now I’m just focusing on the future and it’s looking good. I still came to the games. I was happy the team was doing well because everybody in the dressing-room has the same target – promotion. If somebody else is doing the job on the pitch, I’m happy as well.”
His long-awaited return came on January 24 – the day Hearts lost their unbeaten league record with a 3-2 home loss against Falkirk.
“That wasn’t a happy day. It was mixed emotions. You are happy you are back involved but winning is everything so I wasn’t happy we lost. That took over a little bit. Everybody blamed me,” laughed Sow.
That afternoon tempered belief that Hearts’ promotion back to the Premiership is a mere formality. They remain overwhelming favourites for the title but Neilson is wary of slip-ups, particularly at fourth-placed Queen of the South.
“It’s a difficult one,” he said. “Down there [earlier in the season] we found it really difficult in the first 25 minutes. We cleared one off the line and they hit the post. We eventually got two goals quickly which killed the game off. I expect it to be just as hard this time.
“If Queens do get into the play-offs the I think Palmerston Park will be a difficult place to go. Both Queens and Falkirk, whichever side is in there, will be a really difficult opponent.
“There is no guarantee we won’t be in the play-offs, while Hibs and Rangers will be there or thereabouts.”
Hearts boss Neilson is happy to see Sow involved again. “It’s been difficult for Osman,” said Neilson. “He could have come back last week, but we didn’t want to push him. “He has great pace, is direct and has tremendous physicality. It is important to have him at 100 per cent and he is just about there. He will be involved today.”