Jamie Walker played 45 minutes for the Hearts under-20 side yesterday to give himself an outside chance of featuring in Sunday’s Scottish Cup clash with Hibernian at Tynecastle.
The winger has been out since October with a knee injury which needed surgery. He went under the knife in December and yesterday’s development fixture against Dundee United at Montrose was his first taste of action since the League Cup quarter-final defeat by Celtic on 28 October.
Walker played the first half against United before being replaced at half-time by Russell McLean as Hearts U20s saw a 3-0 lead slip away, with the home team coming back to draw 3-3.
The imminent return of Walker was one of the reasons given last week by Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson for the decision to allow another winger, Billy King, to join Rangers on loan.
Sam Nicholson is also expected to return from injury for Hearts for this weekend’s fifith round tie with Hibs.
The Gorgie side could hand debuts to new signings John Souttar, Don Cowie and Abiola Dauda. All three were recruited on transfer deadline day. The club released Danny Swanson, who has rejoined St Johnstone, and let Morgaro Gomis leave to join Motherwell on loan. Striker Osman Sow is in talks over a possible million-pound plus move to Chinese club Henan Jianye.