Hearts are so concerned by Peter Haring’s groin injury that they are contemplating signing another holding midfielder to cover for the Austrian.
Haring is doubtful for Friday’s opening Betfred Cup tie against Dundee United due to a problem which has persisted since last season. He did not travel to Ireland for last week’s pre-season tour and medical staff are treating the injury cautiously.
Manager Craig Levein admitted today that he may need to recruit a midfield deputy until until Haring’s problem subsides.
Pain in the groin sidelined the player for six weeks between April and May, but he returned to play in the Scottish Cup final. Hearts hoped rest over the summer would see him return injury-free but he is still troubled by the same issue.
“Peter is progressing, but slowly. I knew I was taking a bit of a risk by playing him in the cup final but I thought it would settle down over the summer,” explained Levein.
“He still feels something and we are taking a wee backwards step before we push on again. It’s quite difficult to diagnose these things. There are so many parts in that area [of the body] that are reliant on others and, if something is wrong in one, it can cause compensation and strain elsewhere.
“I was hoping he’d be fit by now but he’s not. That’s a wee bit of a worry because we don’t have anyone else like him.
“Arnaud [Djoum], who is no longer on the books, would be the next player closest to Peter. That’s something I might have to look at, with regard to bringing another one in for that position, which is such an important position.”
It was confirmed yesterday that Djoum had signed for Saudi Arabian club Al-Raed.
The 30-year-old midfielder rejected the offer of a new contract at Tynecastle Park to move to the Middle East.
Al-Raed announced their latest recruit after Djoum left the Africa Cup of Nations following Cameroon’s elimination.
Hearts offered Djoum an extension to his deal, which ran out in May, but knew he was looking elsewhere. The Edinburgh club handed his No 10 shirt to the returning Jamie Walker last week. Djoum remained a free agent while on international duty before deciding to join Al-Raed. Apollon Limassol of Cyprus offered him a contract which he rejected and the Greek club Panathinaikos were also credited with an interest.
Djoum joined Hearts in 2015 after leaving the Polish club Lech Poznan and saw his career reach new heights in Scotland. He was called into the Cameroon squad and helped them win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.