Huge 7-man Hearts injury boost ahead of Rangers Scottish Cup final and Robbie Neilson's selection headache
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson is set to be faced with a selection headache for the Scottish Cup final.
Hearts were without seven key players in the starting XI for Sunday’s 3-2 win over Dundee United which saw the team extend their lead in third place to 19 points.
While Ellis Simms stepped off the bench to score the winner, Cammy Devlin was an unused substitute. Neilson was also without a further five injured first-team stars. John Souttar and Michael Smith have been out since the start of March and middle of February respectively. Stephen Kingsely, Andy Halliday and Craig Halkett all picked up injuries in the win over Hibs at Hampden Park last week.
The injury which has brought most concern has been Halkett who appeared touch and go for the final but having seen a specialist last week there is good news which could see a return before the final.
“Halliday will be back, Kingsley will be back, John Souttar is almost in full training as well.
“The only one is Halkett but the aim is to get him back for the Scottish Cup final.
“He will train the two weeks before and might be ready for the Rangers league game, we’ll see.
He added: “Ellis Simms has been carrying a knock so we knew we’d only get twenty minutes or so out of him. Cammy Devlin isn’t ready to play but we put him on the bench anyway.”
If all seven are fit, it gives Neilson an abundance of choice for the Scottish Cup final, both in terms of system and personnel.
In the three league matches against Rangers this campaign, Hearts have played 3-4-3 twice and 4-2-3-1 once.
Halkett, Kingsley and Souttar have been Neilson's preferred defensive trio or can be lined up in a four with all players shifting left which would open the right-back position for either Nathaniel Atkinson or Michael Smith.
Then in midfield there is Peter Haring, Andy Halliday and Cammy Devlin who have all impressed recently.
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