HEARTS’ injury woes were exacerbated yesterday when Jamie Walker suffered a suspected broken metatarsal in the 1-0 home defeat by Motherwell and Kevin McHattie limped off with a sore hamstring.
The club’s administrator BDO is expected to make another plea for a relaxation of the signing ban when the Scottish Professional Football League board meet tomorrow but manager Gary Locke is not holding out much hope despite the situation getting bleaker by the day.
The club are still without midfielder Jason Holt, who also broke his metatarsal earlier this season, and reserve goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, while captain Danny Wilson is still recovering from tonsillitis. Although they are banned from enlisting reinforcements, other clubs have expressed an interest in Hearts players, with Swansea City close to signing teenage midfielder Adam King.
Walker hobbled his way through the final minutes of the match and the prognosis is gloomy, according to Locke. “He has come off and the early signs are he’s done his metatarsal, so that would be a disaster for us. He’ll get a scan on Monday. And Kevin McHattie had to come off with a hamstring. Then, if we lose Adam King, we’re losing another body.
“Even today we were struggling squad wise. Gary Oliver hasn’t played for four weeks and shouldn’t have been on the bench but he was, and Callum Tapping was on the bench and he is only half-fit.
“We’ll see how Monday goes. Mentally for the players it’s a lot for 17 and 18-year-olds to take on. I’d just love to have a couple of experienced boys to help them.”
The club have now taken just two points from 27 and are still two points shy of wiping out the 15-point deficit imposed for entering administration. They trail second-bottom Ross County by 20 points.
Hearts’ second attempt to have their registration embargo lifted is likely to be thrown out at Hampden tomorrow. The SPFL board has already rejected one appeal from the Edinburgh club and it is expected to maintain its stance.
Although relegation now looks inevitable, Hearts still have a League Cup semi-final to contest next month against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.