Crocked Beslija facing six-week Hearts lay-off

MIRSAD BESLIJA was today lamenting more wretched injury luck as he faced an absence of up to six weeks with knee ligament damage sustained in training.

Hearts have sent their record signing for scans and have been told not to expect Beslija fit again before September. He injured his right knee during a non-contact training exercise at Riccarton, leaving him on crutches.

Beslija only returned to Hearts last month following a season-long loan at the Belgian club Sint-Truiden, where a succession of injuries prevented the winger making an impression. Early signs indicated his physical condition had improved significantly following the start of pre-season training, but the latest setback has left the Bosnian dejected.

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He recently told the Evening News of his determination to establish himself in Hearts' first team having made just 13 appearances in two-and-a-half years. He cost the club a record 800,000 from Racing Genk in January 2006 but failed to make an impression, largely due to persistent fitness problems.

The knee damage couldn't have come at a worse juncture for Beslija as he enters the final year of his Hearts contract. New manager Csaba Laszlo, appointed on Friday, is striving to familiarise himself with the squad and will watch tonight's friendly with Glentoran with interest.

He stated on Friday that players already at Tynecastle will have the chance to showcase their credentials before any tweaking of the squad, but Beslija must now wait frustratingly on the sidelines before he can impress his new manager.

Tonight's match at The Oval in Belfast is a testimonial for the Glentoran captain Paul Leeman, and Laszlo senses an air of expectancy surrounding the occasion. "I want my team ready for the first league game," he told the Evening News. "Tonight's game is very important, every game is important for me and I take every opponent very seriously. I won't change very much in the team and the technical team will help me. I will be involved in the training. I will use the technical team for support and even after only two days training with the squad I can sit on the bench."

Laszlo also expects to receive a visit from majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov once he returns to Edinburgh. "I know that, as soon as possible, he will come to the city and we willspeak. That will probably be later this week some time," he said.