Hearts are sweating over the fitness of both Arnaud Djoum and Peter Haring ahead of the final capital derby of the year.
The Gorgie side were buoyed by their 2-0 defeat of Hamilton at Tynecastle yesterday but that joy was tempered by the fact that both midfielders had to be substituted with muscular strains.
“Arnaud felt his thigh and Peter tried to turn and he lost his footing and slipped and his groin was tight,” said Hearts boss Craig Levein. “And obviously with this game coming up on Saturday they are two of our more important midfielders. So I really don’t know yet. I have my fingers crossed that it’s nothing too serious but the fact they have had to come off isn’t great.”
But Levein says his men will go into the Easter Road clash with growing confidence after yesterday’s well-earned three points and the positive return of Steven Naismith.
The Scotland international could not mastermind the win at Pittodrie at the weekend but was instrumental in the victory over Hamilton.
“He makes a huge difference to us and also to the opposition,” said Levein, “Because they look at the team sheet and think ‘aw, Naismith’s playing’. He’s cajoling and encouraging people on the pitch throughout the match. He’ll admit he can play better, but his general play helped the team and on another day we could have had five or six easily.
“You can still see the little bit of nervousness [in the team] but confidence doesn’t come in a bottle – you can’t drink it – it has to arrive via performances and results. It’s been a tough slog through this period but it’s about character, determination, grit and resilience and the big one is Saturday.”