Thousands of Hearts fans travel to St Johnstone as club explain who will make Liam Boyce fitness decision
More than 3,200 Hearts fans will attend McDiarmid Park tonight hoping to see top goalscorer Liam Boyce leading their team’s attack.
A huge travelling support is heading to Perth where the Edinburgh club’s ten-game unbeaten Premiership run goes on the line against St Johnstone. Boyce is doubtful with a calf injury and will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.
The striker, who has ten goals in 15 appearances so far this season, will be allowed to decide himself whether he is able to play. His chances of doing so are rated no more than 50/50 and Frenchman Armand Gnanduillet is poised to deputise up front if needed.
Robbie Neilson, the Hearts manager, is delighted by the uptake in tickets by fans for a midweek away match and explained why Boyce will make the final call on his injury.
“Liam did a wee bit of training today [Tuesday]. He didn’t train with the full team and we’ll see him again on Wednesday. To be honest, it will be up to Liam to see if he’s right or not,” said Neilson.
“The big thing I spoke to him about is making sure he’s at it. We’ve got a good squad here and if you’re not and you break down you could be out for two or three weeks. So, the decision will come down to Liam. Everyone else is alright.”
Asked about the level of support anticipated in Perth, Neilson replied: “It’s absolutely brilliant, to be honest with you. The Hearts fans always travel in numbers and we’ve got two good away games for them.
“Hopefully we can get a good result against St Johnstone and then we’re taking about 1,000 to Aberdeen [on Saturday] and have a good crowd up there.
“McDiarmid Park is always a difficult place to go to. Historically for Hearts, it’s been years since we got a result up there. So we know it’s tough. It’s tough for all teams. Look at Rangers earlier in the season when they won 2-1 and managed to get three points.
“For us, can we go up there and can we continue our good away record, which has been very good this season? But we know it will be tough.”
Neilson will serve the second of a three-game touchline suspension tonight and must watch the match from a seat in the main stand.
“I’ll just wait and see where Callum [Davidson, St Johnstone manager] puts me,” he smirked. “It doesn’t really matter where I sit. Gordon Forrest and Lee McCulloch [Hearts’ assistant coaches] can deal with it. They’ll deal with the game and I’ll oversee it.”
After drawing 1-1 with Dundee at Tynecastle and 1-1 with Rangers at Ibrox in their last two matches, Hearts’ aim is to regain winning form.
“For us, it’s onto the next game. There was a disappointment in the dressing room on Saturday,” said Neilson. “We knew we had the chances to win the game and we should have put it to bed.
“The players here know we’re playing well. We’ve got a really good squad with competition for places and we want to try to do something this season. We want to be up the top end of the league and we want to continue to win games.”