Motherwell v Hearts preview: Dikamona debut, Levein in the dugout?
Hearts travel to Fir Park to face Motherwell on Saturday hoping to maintain their impressive start to the season.
Craig Levein will make a late call on whether he takes to the dugout in Lanarkshire, if the Jambos boss passes his own fitness test.
Clevid Dikamona is available to make his Hearts debut, although Jimmy Dunne and John Souttar could be preferred at the heart of a back four.
Aaron Hughes was sent home from the Northern Ireland camp with a calf injury and may miss the trip to Motherwell. However, the veteran stopper could make the bench.
Craig Wighton is another who could be pushing for a start - the former Dundee forward has been banging in the goals for Hearts Reserves and has the advantage of being able to play out wide as well as up top.
Arnaud Djoum is pushing for a return to the starting XI but Levein may not want to change a winning team.
‘Well are down to the bare bones in defence, with Carl McHugh expected to operate in Stephen Robinson’s backline with Charles Dunne out injured and Liam Donnelly a doubt.
Connor Sammon is ineligible to face his parent club so Daniel Johnson is expected to partner Curtis Main in attack.
Injuries / suspensions / unavailable
Motherwell - Connor Sammon is ineligible to face his parent club while Ellis Plummer (broken leg), Craig Tanner (knee) and Charles Dunne (groin) are all out. Liam Donnelly is a doubt with a knock but Allan Campbell should be fit despite picking up a knock on international duty.
Hearts - The Tynecastle side are without the services of Harry Cochrane, Jamie Brandon, Marcus Godinho and long-term absentee Christophe Berra, while Aaron Hughes is struggling with a calf knock.
3 - the number of goals scored in Hearts’ last two trips to Fir Park. Unfortunately, both were 2-1 defeats.
Tom Aldred grappling with Uche Ikpeazu could make for an entertaining subplot in this fixture.
Hearts haven’t won at Fir Park since February 2017, when an Alexandros Tziolis opener and an Esmael Goncalves double handed the Jambos a 3-0 win. The team that day was: Hamilton, Struna, Tziolis, Hughes, Sowah, Cowie, Avlonitis, Martin, Walker, Goncalves, Johnsen. The subs were Noring, Kitchen, Nicholson, Nowak, Rherras, Currie and Moha.
Motherwell haven’t won consecutive competitive games at Fir Park since late August/early September last year, when a 2-1 win over Hearts was sandwiched by 2-0 wins over Ross County and Kilmarnock.
Bobby Madden takes charge of this fixture. The 39-year-old whistler has reffed 28 Hearts games, of which the Jambos have won 10, drawn 6 and lost 12. During those games he has cautioned 43 players, sent off five and awarded seven penalties.
Motherwell: Carson; Aldred, McHugh, Hartley; Cadden, Bigirimana, Campbell, Rose, Tait; Main, Johnson. Subs from: Turnbull, Taylor-Sinclair, Donnelly, Frear, Grimshaw, Bowman, Gillespie, Gorrin, Newell.
Hearts: Zlamal; Smith, Souttar, Dunne, Garuccio; Haring, Lee; Naismith, Mitchell; MacLean, Ikpeazu. Subs from: Doyle, Hamilton, Dikamona, Baur, Bozanic, Djoum, McDonald, Morrison, Mulraney, Wighton,