St Johnstone v Hearts: Match preview and probable line-ups

Both teams come into this game riding a wave of optimism; Hearts after demolishing Celtic and their unbeaten run and St Johnstone after coming from behind to win convincingly at Ibrox.

Friday, 22nd December 2017, 12:19 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd December 2017, 12:21 pm
John Souttar's return from suspension is a boost for Hearts. Picture: SNS Group

Hearts’ last three visits to McDiarmid Park have ended in 1-0 defeats, although they won the last meeting between the two sides at Tynecastle Park.

Craig Levein isn’t without his injury worries, however - the Jambos could be missing up to seven players for the trip to Perth.

Long-term absentees Malaury Martin, Rory Currie and Ashley Smith-Brown are joined by Lewis Moore (calf), Arnaud Djoum (achilles), Aaron Hughes (calf) and Jamie Walker (hamstring) on the sidelines.

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Prince Buaben has also been struggling with a groin problem but is expected to be fit for the match.

John Souttar is back from suspension and will likely assume his normal spot in the heart of defence alongside Christophe Berra.

Michael O’Halloran returns for St Johnstone after sitting out the 3-1 win over Rangers due to the terms of his loan deal at McDiarmid Park.

Despite Saints’ impressive win in Glasgow, O’Halloran is likely to reclaim his starting berth, with Denny Johnstone dropping to the bench.

Tommy Wright will be without the services of Brian Easton, Aaron Comrie and Murray Davidson. The latter two are out until the new year while Easton is back in training after overcoming a knee complaint but the visit of Hearts has come too soon for the defender.

Last five meetings: Hearts 1-0 St Johnstone; St Johnstone 1-0 Hearts; St Johnstone 1-0 Hearts; Hearts 2-2 St Johnstone; St Johnstone 1-0 Hearts.

Likely St Johnstone team: (4-2-3-1): Clark; Foster, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Tanser; Paton, Craig; Millar, Alston, Scougall; O’Halloran. Subs from: Mannus, Gordon, Wotherspoon, McClean, MacLean, Thomson, Johnstone, Cummins, Hendry.

Likely Hearts team: (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; Randall, Souttar, Berra, Brandon; Cowie, Cochrane; Smith, Callachan, Isma; Stockton. Subs from: Hamilton, Hughes, Grzelak, Baur, Nowak, Henderson, McDonald, Milinkovic, Keena, Lafferty.

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Kick-off: 3.00pm

Odds: St Johnstone 2/1 Draw 12/5 Hearts 6/4 (Odds correct at the time of writing)