Robbie Neilson provides injury update on Hearts stars Liam Boyce and Beni Baningime
Robbie Neilson expects to have a relatively clean bill of health for his Hearts squad when the cinch Premiership shutdown comes to an end.
Hearts leave for their winter training camp in Malaga on Wednesday after players were given extended time following the break in the domestic season for the World Cup.
In part thanks to a cramped fixture schedule, which included eight European games, there was a lengthy injury list for Neilson to contend with as he sought to keep Hearts competitive both at home and on the continent.
Although it started to ease of in recent weeks, the Hearts boss was still without the likes of Stephen Kingsley, Stephen Humphrys, Peter Haring and Gary Mackay-Steven for the 1-1 draw with Livingston last time out.
Humprhys and Mackay-Steven were two players unavailable for Tuesday’s closed-door friendly game with Swansea City as they continue to make their way back.
They’re expected to be ready in time when league football returns, though Hearts are still at the mercy of the World Cup with Kye Rowles, Cammy Devlin and Nathaniel Atkinson, who has picked up an ankle problem, part of the Australia squad in Qatar.
“Players had a fortnight off. Now they’re back and we’ll go to Spain for a week. We'll get a couple of games out there and then we're back at it again,” said Neilson.
“There will be some guys coming in, those who have been out injured. I expect all of them to return after the break apart from Beni [Baningime] and [Liam] Boyce. The rest of them should be fine if we can, touch wood, get the international players back fine. It will good to have everyone back again.”
Early prognosis of Baningme’s cruciate ligament injury had the midfielder potentially returning before 2023. The 24-year-old hurt himself in the 2-0 win over Livingston in mid-March and it may be until next spring when he’s seen in maroon again.
“No, not at all,” when asked if Baningime was healing slower than expected. “With these things people say nine months but it is, more realistically, a year, so he might be ahead of schedule. When he’s ready, he’s ready.
"With Boycie, he has done his crucial before so he knows how to rehab and he might be back sooner than we’d hoped.”