Stendel has returned to Germany to attend to “family business” and has left Kirk, his recently promoted assistant, to take training.
Hearts slumped to the bottom of the league after losing 2-1 to Hamilton Accies and some fans are concerned by the news Stendel will miss two days’ training before the crucial match with Hibs.
The manager has also given the players Christmas Day off. He is due to return to Edinburgh later tomorrow for the following day’s game at 12.30pm.
Writing on the fans’ message board Kickback, one supporter sarcastically noted: “Sends a great message out to the players leading into the derby”.
But Kirk insists he has been well briefed. “We’re in constant contact with Daniel, we know exactly what he wants – and we’ll put that across to the players over the next few days,” he said. “We’ll make sure we’re ready.”