Callum Paterson could miss several weeks of Hearts’ European push after injuring his shoulder against Kilmarnock on Saturday.
He was being assessed by medical staff at Riccarton yesterday having been forced off 15 minutes from the end of the 1-0 win. An awkward landing left the full-back clutching his shoulder and collarbone area. He was soon replaced by Blazej Augustyn, with John Souttar moving to right-back from central defence. Hearts fear Paterson could now miss the next few weeks as they strive to secure a place in the Europa League qualifying rounds.
“We’re assessing Callum and we’re hopeful he’s just tweaked it a bit,” said head coach Robbie Neilson. “It’s definitely not dislocated, he’s maybe just pulled something. It won’t be a long-term thing.
“He’s got power, he’s got pace and he’s one of our key players. To get him back in after being out last week was great. Losing him was difficult but I thought John Souttar went over to right-back and did really well.”
Without Paterson, Neilson will be forced to alter his team again for tomorrow night’s rearranged league match against Inverness. He has made multiple changes in recent weeks and explained that they were mostly out of necessity.
“The changes were made because personnel were coming in and other guys had little problems. We’ve had a wee period recently when a number of players have been carrying injuries.
“Although it looks like we’re rotating squads, we’re actually putting out the players who are fit.
“At Dundee United last week, we had Jordan McGhee sent off, then two players got injured.
“Instead of using your bench to improve the team, you’re then actually using your bench to patch things up and get through the game. Saturday was pleasing because we could actually bring Juanma on to make things better and try to make progress.”
The win over Kilmarnock, courtesy of Jamie Walker’s seventh-minute goal, earned three points in the first of three successive home games for Hearts. They welcome Inverness tomorrow and Partick Thistle on Saturday.
“It’s a key week for us,” continued Neilson. “We’ve got three points and we’re looking to take another six from the next two games. We’re playing against a good team in Inverness so it’s going to be difficult. We need to make sure we prepare properly and perform if we’re going to get three points.
“These are two more home games which we want to win. We can’t expect just to turn up and win. Inverness finished third last year and won the Scottish Cup, so we know they’re a good team. Partick Thistle have had a really good run of form recently as well.”