Opinion

Hearts: Injury blow could derail top three finish push for Levein

Hearts: Injury blow could derail top three finish push for Levein

Craig Levein and Hearts have a massive ten days ahead of them, with the Edinburgh derby on Saturday sandwiched between a huge game at Rangers tomorrow and a Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness the following week.

To be fighting for cup glory and a top three finish is fantastic for the Tynecastle club, but the what they cannot afford, are more injuries.

With on loan striker, Steven Naismith, recovering from knee surgery, the last thing they wanted was to lose their other goal threat, Uche Ikpeazu.

Having scored what turned out to be the winning goal against Aberdeen on Saturday, he suffered a head injury, which forced him off.

With concussion being in the spotlight following the Fabian Shcar incident for Switzerland, it is refreshing to know that the Scottish Professional Football League has strict guidelines for clubs to adhere to, although it is bad news for Hearts fans.

As a result of the injury, Ikpeazu will not be permitted to play against Rangers on Wednesday.

It is a huge blow for Levein and Hearts, but the health and safety of the player must come first.

Levein told BBC Sport: “He’s passed all the tests so far and he feels good.

“Providing everything goes well for the rest of the week, he should be okay for the Hibs match.”

“He won’t make the Rangers game, but I’m pretty confident he will be okay for Saturday,” Levein said.

“The guidelines are very strict, but he was fine on Sunday morning when I spoke to him.”

With third placed Kilmarnock visiting Hibs — who are just two points behind Hearts — on the same night, with Aberdeen playing Motherwell too, Levein would have hoped to have his striker fit, in what could prove to be a pivotal night.

It seemed like a good time to be facing Rangers, a side who are reeling from an Old Firm defeat, and have striker Alfredo Morelos suspended, but the situation has now changed somewhat.

It is a strong likelihood that 21-year-old Craig Wighton will be used as a lone striker in the game now, and Hearts will be looking to play much of the game without the ball, but counter attacking when they have it.

The hope now will be that Ikpeazu will be available for the derby on Saturday, and depending on results on Wednesday, that may become a must-win game for Levein’s side.

What are your thoughts on the striker options available for the Rangers game, Hearts fans? Let us know below…

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