Returning Hearts full-back Jamie Hamill insists he will not risk his return from a devastating knee injury just to play in the Scottish Communities League Cup final.
The 26-year-old defender returned to training last week after ten months out of action with a ruptured cruciate ligament.
However, Hamill insists he is still not match-fit and will not risk his recovery by speeding up his rehabilitation just to try to win a place in the Tynecastle team that will take on St Mirren at Hampden on 17 March.
The former Kilmarnock man told HeartsTV: “I would like to be back before the cup final but, at this moment in time, I’m not focusing on that.
“I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things. From there, if I can make it a game or two before the final or a game or two after, then so be it.
“I’m not really pushing myself for the final as such. Obviously it would be great because I missed the Scottish Cup final last year, which was difficult to take. But worse things have happened to me in my life.
“Hopefully I will make it but if I don’t, I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.”
Hamill suffered both physical and mental scars during the recovery period but is now delighted to be nearing his return. “It’s good to get back in about the atmosphere of being around the boys,” he said. “I’m happy and the physio is happy to let me off the leash. It’s been difficult mentally for me. When I first got injured I thought I would never play again.
“(Then) I was expecting it to be six, seven months (out) but we hit a few snags along the way. That’s difficult to take but there’s no point rushing back and doing yourself harm.”