The main aim for Hearts now this season will be to lift the Scottish Cup. After a disappointing league campaign, a cup win would alleviate the woes the Premiership campaign has brought them.
With a European place in the league now looking extremely unlikely, lifting the cup on the 25th of May will be their only chance of entering the Europa League qualifiers. The glory that comes with a cup win should also work as a massive incentive for Craig Levein and his men.
With that, players may need to be rested in the run up to this clash against Celtic. The Jambos have struggled with injuries all season and will need their best men ahead of the final.
This may give some squad players a chance to shine, and potentially stake their claim for a starting spot at Hampden.
Here we’ve listed three players who should be given some starts before the Premiership season is finished.
He burst onto the scene last season against Celtic. This season, however, Harry Cochrane has struggled to retain a regular first team position in Levein’s side.
The central midfielder has raw ability but injury has prevented him from excelling at such a young age. Still only in his teens, these final four games should be used to give Cochrane another run of games.
The midfielder impressed during his fifth league appearance of the campaign against Rangers. Cochrane likes to put himself about and does some decent dirty work in the middle. When he’s on the ball, Cochrane has a great eye for a pass and technique way beyond his 18 years of age suggests.
The only way he will develop, now he is fit, is with minutes. Four games against Scotland’s best teams would massively aid his development.
Used very much as a squad player this term, Clevid Dikamona has been deployed as a utility man throughout the season. He hasn’t played 90 minutes since December though and the next four games should see him play another 90.
The defender’s inclusion would allow the likes of Christophe Berra and John Souttar to have a rest. They have played almost every minute since the turn of the year and are due a rest at some stage.
Dikamona could do a job for a few games. He is decent enough in the tackle and is reliable cover for Hearts’ main two. Levein could ensure full fitness for his main defenders in the Scottish Cup final by giving Dikamona some game time. He is a warrior, committed to the Jambos cause and the defender gives everything for the shirt.
He should get some playing time before the season finishes.
The youngster had a game to forget against Celtic. Sent off in the first half against the Hoops at Tynecastle in January, it was a steep learning curve for the full-back. To aid his development further, the 21-year old should start some matches before the Scottish Cup final.
Michael Smith has just returned from a long term injury and Levein will not want to risk another injury to the Northern Irishman. This could see Brandon slot into right-back for a game or two before the season is out.
The Scotsman is another who has came off the Tynecastle youth conveyor belt. He played well against Aberdeen a few weeks ago but hasn’t played much since. Brandon is Premiership quality, but is still rough around the edges.
Hearts’ final few games should be used to give him some game time. He has only played five Premiership matches this season and more are needed if Levein wants him to continue developing. Factor that in with Smith’s recent return to injury, it seems logical to give Brandon some minutes in the final four games.