Hearts captain Christophe Berra has undergone a scan to determine whether he needs surgery on his injured ankle. Tynecastle officials hope to alleviate the problem without an operation and were today anxiously awaiting the results.
Berra, 33, has taken pain-killing injections to play in Hearts’ last two matches against Motherwell and Hibs after going over on his ankle in training. The injury is not subsiding and manager Craig Levein is keeping his fingers crossed his centre-back will not require surgery.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re getting it scanned, to discover the extent of it,” Levein told the Evening News. “Christophe is a tough boy and tends to play on even when he has an injury. He took an injection to play in the last two matches. That’s just him, he wants to play. We’re trying to ascertain what the problem is.”
Levein is also contending with doubts over several other key men ahead of this weekend’s Premiership match with Partick Thistle at Tynecastle. The match could be pivotal to the Edinburgh club’s hopes of securing a top-six place but a number of influential players are struggling.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t end up with a major problem for the weekend,” said Levein. “Harry Cochrane is going to struggle, obviously, with his muscle injury. Christophe went for a scan and we’re waiting on the results of that.
“John Souttar has this hamstring problem, which he’s been playing with, but he hasn’t trained this week yet. Don Cowie had a chest infection which floored him and he didn’t make the Hibs match. He did a little bit of training earlier in the week but still felt rough, although he’s keen to be involved on Saturday. David Milinkovic went for a scan [on his injured knee] as well so we just have to wait to know who is or isn’t available. Today will be a telling day because the ones who will look to be involved at the weekend will really need to do some training.”
With Cochrane and Arnaud Djoum sidelined in midfield, others will be asked to step in against Thistle. “Prince Buaben played 45 minutes for the Under-20s on Tuesday. Andy Irving also played, plus we’ve got Ross Callachan. I’m hopeful Cowie will feel better come the weekend,” said Levein.
Hearts enter the match sitting sixth in the league table – four points ahead of seventh-placed Motherwell having played one fixture more. Levein admitted his team have plenty to do in order to secure their top-six place.
“We’ve never been in a position where I’ve felt we’ve got that tucked away. I’ve never thought to myself: ‘That’s the top-six place safe,’” he stated. I wasn’t expecting to be saying we had the top six tied up because I’ve never felt confident that we had it tied up, so I think we’ve still got work to do. I’m glad we’re back at Tynecastle. I feel much better when we’re playing at home and I think our recent home results have been decent.”