Derby blow for Hearts: Suspension rules Marius Zaliukas out of Hibs clash

Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas will miss next week’s Edinburgh Derby against Hibs at Tynecastle as he serves a suspension for earning six yellow cards this season.

Zaliukas was booked during the Jambos’ 2-1 victory over Rangers at Ibrox last weekend and, now with half a dozen cautions to his name this term, will sit out proceedings as Paulo Sergio’s team face their cross-city rivals in Gorgie at midday on Sunday, March 18.

The Tynecastle skipper is no stranger to enforced absences due to indiscipline, having this season already missed Hearts’ trip to Inverness at the end of January after being sent off early in the previous week’s 5-2 win over St Mirren, a match in which Zaliukas, 28, opened the scoring in the first minute only to see red little more than ten minutes later. Zaliukas and his team mates were preparing to face the Paisley side again in today’s lunchtime kick-off for a place in the Scottish Cup semi final.

Bookings earned by Zaliukas in each of Hearts’ three meetings with Rangers this season, as well as cautions against Kilmarnock (twice) and St Johnstone, mean that Jambos boss Sergio must break up the mainstay central defensive partnership of the Lithuanian and Andy Webster when Hibs come calling in eight days’ time. Either Darren Barr or Ryan McGowan are likely to deputise alongside Webster.

Zaliukas scored an own goal the last time Edinburgh’s big two met, but Hearts still triumphed 3-1 at Easter Road on January 2. Last year, at the same ground, the 6ft 3ins centre back was red carded during a 2-2 draw against Hibs. The player’s discipline has generally improved as his Hearts career has progressed. He picked up 17 yellow cards and five reds during his first three years at the club, while over the last three seasons he has earned 14 bookings and two early baths.