Plastic pitch worries keep James Keatings out

Keatings has been recovering from a groin injury. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Keatings has been recovering from a groin injury. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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JAMES Keatings looks set to be sidelined again this weekend, with Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson reluctant to risk further damage to the striker’s groin on Alloa’s plastic pitch.

The 22-year-old, who has netted four goals since his summer switch from Hamilton, sat out Saturday’s 3-0 win at Queen of the South as he recovers from a niggling complaint following surgery last year. Although he was approaching full fitness, Neilson decided against fielding Keatings on Palmerston Park’s fourth generation artificial turf for fear of aggravating the player’s injury.

Keatings tweeted at the weekend that he was “gutted” to miss out on the trip to Dumfries.

However, with Alloa’s Indodrill Stadium pitch widely considered to be of a lower standard than the surface at Palmerston, Neilson admits he is likely to make the same decision on Saturday. “James has a problem with his groin. He had an operation last year and it’s just a bit of a niggle,” he said. “I didn’t want to take any risk with him on the astro and it will probably be similar this week.”

With the Championship’s top scorer, Osman Sow, striking up a promising partnership with fit-again Soufian El Hassnaoui, Neilson is under no pressure to risk Keatings.