Key Hearts duo Joel Pereira and Steven Naismith are set to return for Hibs clash

Joel Pereira and Steven Naismith are set to return to Hearts’ squad for Sunday’s Edinburgh derby at Easter Road after recovering from their respective injury problems.

Thursday, 19th September 2019, 16:45 pm
Joel Pereira has returned to training from Manchester United

Michael Smith and Callumn Morrison are also pressing for involvement against Hibs having been unused substitutes for last weekend’s 3-2 home defeat by Motherwell.

Pereira, the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper, has returned to training this week after missing the past two games with a minor thigh strain sustained late in the 3-1 defeat away to Celtic last month. With Hearts having conceded five goals at home in the two matches in which he has been absent, the 23-year-old Switzerland-born former Portugal Under-21 internationalist is expected to replace Colin Doyle for the trip to Leith.

Naismith has also trained this week and is set to feature in Sunday’s squad but it remains to be seen if the talismanic attacker will be pitched straight back into the starting line-up after being plagued by hamstring trouble since being substituted at half-time in the second Premiership match of the season against Ross County almost six weeks ago.

Smith has also had trouble with his hamstring over the past month and hasn’t played since being substituted in the Celtic match almost four weeks ago. After being an unused substitute against Motherwell, the influential Northern Irish right-back is on course to return to the first XI.

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Morrison was on the bench last weekend after returning to the matchday squad for the first time in more than five months following a knee operation in April. The 20-year-old winger made an impact for Hearts Reserves against Dunfermline on Tuesday as he got more game time under his belt and is pressing for inclusion in Sunday’s squad.

John Souttar continues to be sidelined, however. The centre-back suffered an ankle injury in the Premiership opener against Aberdeen and is yet to resume full training. Jamie Walker, Conor Washington and Ben Garuccio are also absent with long-term injuries.