FOLLOWING the Evening News’ story that Soufian El Hassnaoui will not play for Hearts this season as his injury nightmare continues, we look back at several players whose Tynecastle careers were hindered by injury:
• Mirsad Beslija
Hearts’ record signing at £800,000 managed only 13 appearances in almost three years at Tynecastle. Shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries left him very much in the “expensive flop” category after so much hype surrounding his arrival. The Bosnian international winger was known for blinding pace at former club Racing Genk in Belgium but he barely got out of the starting blocks in Scotland.
• Mike Tullberg
Arrived on a one-year loan from the Italian club Reggina in July 2008. Signed by then-Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo, the Danish forward was expected to provide pace, power and goals up front. A torn thigh muscle just weeks into his stay with Hearts effectively ruined his stay. He returned to Italy in 2009 after just seven competitive outings in maroon. He had to retire from football due to his injury problems in 2012.
• Mauricio Pinilla
That the Chilean superstar played only eight times during a two-year spell in Edinburgh remains a huge source of regret for many Hearts fans. His explosive shooting power hinted at a new folk hero when he joined in 2006, initially on loan from Sporting Lisbon. Knee and wrist problems were amongst those which held him back. Some felt certain issues were more in Pinilla’s head, although he was being paid around £10,000 per week by owner Vladimir Romanov. He left in 2008 to join Vasco da Gama of Brazil and now plays with Atalanta in Italy’s Serie A.
• Nerijus Barasa
One of so many players who came to Hearts on a loan agreement from FBK Kaunas of Lithuania during the Romanov era. Barasa was a sturdy and capable full-back who played for Lithuania 26 times. Hamstring and ankle ligament injuries restricted him to just 16 games in 18 months for Hearts. He was forced to retire from football in 2007 and chose to run his own building business.
• Laryea Kingston
The Ghanaian earned around £15,000 per week in Scotland and, initially, looked decent value for it. He was an instant hit after arriving on loan from Terek Grozny in 2007. He dominated games against Rangers at Ibrox and Celtic at Parkhead but, after signing on permanently at Tynecastle in a £500,000 deal, his fortunes changed. Hamstring and groin problems became more and more frequent and he often returned injured from international duty with Ghana. He was released in 2010 and joined Vitesse Arnhem.
• Kevin Kyle
Had it not been for a persistent hip problem, the hulking former Scotland striker could have earned a place in Hearts folklore. He joined in June 2010 from Kilmarnock but only played 22 times before being released early from his two-year contract in March 2012. His bustling style and physical presence appealed to the Tynecastle support, and a late headed winner against Hibs in January 2011 was the undoubted highlight of his time in Gorgie.