Hearts boss Ian Cathro plays down Ashley Smith-Brown fitness fears

Hearts' Ashley Smith-Brown going off injured during the match against Elgin. Picture: SNS
Hearts' Ashley Smith-Brown going off injured during the match against Elgin. Picture: SNS
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Hearts head coach Ian Cathro insists there is no major concern over Ashley Smith-Brown’s fitness after the left-back failed to finish another game.

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The on-loan Manchester City player lasted 28 minutes of Hearts’ opening Betfred Cup victory over Elgin on Tuesday before going off with a muscle strain, having been taken off with a similar problem in a pre-season friendly against St Patrick’s in Ireland.

Cathro said: “It’s something we will continue to look at and make sure we manage it properly.

“There is a little bit of discomfort which we need to make sure we get to the bottom of and we do whatever we need to do to build him back up.

“There’s no major worry, it’s a bit of a muscle discomfort in an awkward area.”

The 21-year-old is a doubt for Saturday’s visit of East Fife while midfielder Arnaud Djoum is still working on his fitness after an extended summer break, and John Souttar is on his way back from an Achilles injury.

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But Cathro is otherwise set to field his strongest side for the Tynecastle clash.

“These are competitive games,” he said. “The season has already started. It’s not a different situation to if these were league games.

“The season has begun, we are in competition, we want to do well in the next couple of games and put in strong performances in the group stage of the League Cup.”

Cathro is still looking to strengthen his squad but admits he may have to take his time.

“I think we are probably past the stage in the window where we can do things quickly,” he said.

“There’s a lot more people doing business so we shouldn’t expect anything too soon, but we are making progress.”

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