Robbie Neilson reveals Livingston comeback plan for Craig Halkett - but another Hearts star narrowly misses out

Craig Halkett is set to make his comeback from injury on Saturday as Hearts boss Robbie Neilson revealed he’s looking to get the centre-back some minutes off the bench against Livingston.

The centre-back has been out of action since limping off against RFS on matchday two of the Europa Conference League group stages in September. The ex-Livi defender saw a hamstring injury flare up which he initially sustained in the 2-1 first-leg defeat to FC Zurich in the Europa League play-offs the month prior.

It's been a long road back for the defender who was one of the star players last term as Hearts stormed to third place, though his ordeal could be at an end as Hearts get ready to face his old club.

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Neilson did admit, however, that the game will come too soon for Halkett's centre-back partner for most of last term, Stephen Kingsley, who felt his own hamstring go in the home win against RFS last month.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 11: Craig Halkett during a Heart of Midlothian training session at the Oriam, on November 11, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

"Halks will be on the bench tomorrow with a view to maybe getting a bit of game time," said Neilson. "Stephen was similar but with Stephen it's probably just better giving him that extra bit of time, building him up through that World Cup break. I expect them to be flying when they come back."

Though there’s a five-week gap between the games, the contest in Gorgie represents the first of three consecutive home fixtures for Hearts, who’ve been solid in EH11 this campaign, winning all four league encounters against non-Old Firm opposition to this point.

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“Saturdays game was the first home game against a non European or Old Firm team we have had since August,” said Neilson.

“It has been quite a tough start to the season but if we can manage to pick up three in each of our next three games then I think we will be sitting pretty because the way the league is at the minute is the way I expect it to be for the rest of the season. Everyone is beating everyone and if you pick up three or four home wins on the bounce then you will be right up there."

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