Stirling Albion v Hearts: team news, starting XI, how to watch Premier Sports Cup clash
Hearts travel to Stirling Albion on Tuesday night in their penultimate Premier Sports Cup group stage match.
Robbie Neilson’s men will all but secure their place in the knockout stages of the tournament with a win over the Binos who have amassed five points from their two games having defeated Cove Rangers and then drew with Inverness CT, picking up a bonus point on penalties.
Hearts lost 2-0 to Sunderland at the weekend in a pre-season friendly as Robbie Neilson made changes to the team. It provided fringe players and young stars crucial game time to get match fitness ahead of the start of the league campaign.
On Tuesday they will come up against some familiar names with former Hearts striker Dale Carrick and ex-academy player Nathan Flanagan amongst Stirling's key players.
Team news: Hearts will welcome back Craig Gordon, Josh Ginnelly and Stephen Kingsley who were all rested for Saturday's friendly with Sunderland having played in the first two Premier Sports Cup group games. Armand Gnanduillet will also return after recovering from a thigh issue which kept him out of the matches against Peterhead and Cove Rangers.
Possible XI: Gordon; Souttar, Halkett, Kingsley; Smith, Haring, McEneff, Cochrane; Mackay-Steven, Boyce, Ginnelly.
What the manager said: Pre-season for me is about developing the team. I think the games previously we were quite dominant and didn’t get asked too many questions. Whereas the game on Saturday there were more questions asked and it allows you to go sort it out. The Premier Sports Cup games allow you to get competitive games early. We expect a tough game.
Match details: Tuesday, July 20. Kick-off 7.45pm, Forthbank Stadium, Stirling.
How to watch: Hearts fans can watch the game online for £10 via Pay Per View on the Stirling Albion website. Home season-ticket holders will be in attendance.
Last meeting: You have to go back to August 2007 for the last time these sides met in a competitive match and it was also in the League Cup, at the second round stage. Current manager Robbie Neilson was in the starting XI alongside Christophe Berra and Michael Stewart as well as Saulius Mikoliunas, Jose Goncalves and Ibrahim Tall. Hearts ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Laryea Kingston and Andrew Driver.
The teams also played against each other in 2015 in the Supporters Direct Scotland Fans Cup. Neilson was manager this time and oversaw a young side which lost 2-1 with Russell McLean scoring the Hearts goal.
Key stat: If Hearts avoid defeat it will take it to 115 days unbeaten in competitive matches for Robbie Neilson’s men. The last time they lost was the 3-2 defeat to Queen of the South in March.
Referee: Grant Irvine – It will be the second time the official has taken charge of a Hearts match. His first encounter was the 3-0 home win over Alloa Athletic last season in the Championship. Irvine awarded Hearts a penalty which was missed by Liam Boyce.
Match odds: Stirling 14/1 Draw 6/1 Hearts 2/11