Hearts have already been dealt a blow prior to their League Cup clash with Motherwell, as Steven Naismith may not be fit to play.
The 32-year-old was taken off during Hearts’ 0-0 draw with Ross County. A good cup result is needed to give Tynecastle a much needed positive boost.
That task will be much harder now though. Boss Craig Levein has provided a worrying update on the forward’s fitness.
He told the Edinburgh Evening News: “His hamstring was feeling a bit tight so I didn’t want to take any risks,” explained Levein. “I don’t know if he will be okay for next week but, certainly, he came off before there were any major problems.”
Hearts need Naismith for League Cup battle
Hearts’ striker woes continued at home against the Staggies. Once Naismith went off, Levein’s side didn’t even look like threatening to score.
In the end they were lucky to come away from the match with a point, after Brian Graham missed a penalty. The Jambos strikers had yet another day to forget.
A big problem they had though was the lack of service. Sure, the onus is on the likes of Uche Ikpeazu and Conor Washington to net goals, but they need their teammates to give them service. They received next to nothing on Saturday.
Where Naismith is different is he can create goals himself. The 32-year-old can drop into midfield and win the ball, before driving it forward towards goal.
It doesn’t sound as though they’ll have that against Motherwell. Even if he plays, Naismith won’t be at full fitness. They really need him to be though, as he looks like the only Jambo with the capability to score right now.
An early cup exit would be disastrous for Levein. He needs his talisman to play some sort of role in the fixture.