Hearts game called off as sickness bug sweeps through squad

Hearts' Ladbrokes Premiership clash at Inverness tomorrow night has been postponed after the Tynecastle squad was decimated by a virus.

Several first-team players – including Sam Nicholson and goalkeeper Neil Alexander – called in sick this morning and didn’t report for training, leaving management scrambling to try and cobble together a group to make the trip north.

The club lodged an official request with the SPFL to have the game called off and SPFL bosses agreed to postpone the fixture this afternoon.

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Those in good health left Riccarton at 2pm today as planned to travel up to the Highlands, but there were believed to be only 14 players on the team bus, including untried kids Dan Baur, Callumn Morrison and Robbie Buchanan, who were withdrawn from the Under-20 team which was due to be facing Dundee at Links Park today.

That game was subsequently postponed while the players were out on the pitch taking their pre-match warm-up after Hearts decided they would need to draft in more of their development squad to make up the numbers for tomorrow’s match. The plan was to collect those required for possible first-team duty en route to their pre-match base in Inverness.

When the scale of the problem became apparent, Hearts decided action needed to be taken and asked the SPFL for the match to be postponed. The game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, April 12 with a 7.45pm kick-off.

The SPFL statment read: “Heart of Midlothian FC applied to the SPFL earlier today for the postponement in view of injuries and/or sickness affecting the vast majority of the first team squad, which has left the club with few fit players including only one fit goalkeeper over the age of 16.

“The Heart of Midlothian FC doctor has provided written evidence to the SPFL of the injuries and sickness of all those affected and has also advised of the potential for further infection, both of other squad members and of players and staff of Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC.

“In these exceptional circumstances, the SPFL has agreed to the postponement request.”