HEARTS forward Soufian El Hassnaoui has suffered another injury setback.
The Dutch-Moroccan was due back from a torn cruciate ligament this month but his return has been delayed by a groin problem. El Hassnaoui, 26, should resume training next week in the hope of finally overcoming his injury troubles. He missed a large part of last season – his first in Scotland – due to ankle and groin injuries and then tore his posterior cruciate ligament in a friendly against Preston in July, which sidelined him for four months.
He began his comeback by playing for Hearts Under-20 side last month but had to sit out last night’s mini derby with Hibs as his groin heals.
Head coach Robbie Neilson stressed that the latest injury is not major and that coaching and medical staff are offering the player all the support he needs.
“He should start back training next week and then we’ll build him up again. It’s been really difficult for him because it’s been one thing after another,” Neilson told the Evening News. “Sometimes, when you’ve been out for a long time, you come back and there’s another area that’s a bit weak and you get small niggling injuries like this. We’re just trying to nurse him through it.”
Provided there are no further setbacks, El Hassnaoui should be able to make a first-team return early next month. Hearts are keen that he plays several games at under-20 level before putting him back into the senior squad.
“This sort of thing happens to every player,” said Neilson.
“They get a long-term injury and they focus on repairing the problem and then, when they’re back, something else goes. The groin is nothing major with Soufian, it’s just one of these things. It’s been a difficult period for him last season and this season but we just need to help him get through it.”