Hearts go into this weekend’s Betfred Cup clash without Steven Naismith after the veteran striker picked up a hamstring injury – and the former Rangers star is in danger of becoming an expensive white elephant for the Jambos.

Naismith ended the most protracted transfer of the summer when he finally signed a permanent deal to join Hearts following his Norwich release – but he’s already spent more time in the treatment room than on the pitch.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 22: Steven Naismith of Heart of Midlothian vies with Declan John of Rangers during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Rangers and Hearts at Ibrox Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland.
(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

After missing a hefty chunk of game-time last season with recurring knee injuries, and having a history of knee problems anyway, Naismith’s signing was always going to come with an element of risk.

Manager Craig Levein insists this latest injury isn’t “significant,” according to the Daily Record, but it’s yet more time injured from a player who is integral to any success the Jambos have.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Steven Naismith of Scotland applauds the fans at the final whistle during the UEFA Nations League C group one match between Scotland and Albania at Hampden Park on September 10, 2018 in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
(Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Hearts haven’t exactly had a lot of luck with players returning from injury and being rushed too soon – Peter Haring has been on the sidelines for months after being rushed for the Scottish Cup final – and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the same happens with (or even already has) with Naismith.

If it ends up with the Jambos being without the veteran for a considerable period of time for the second season in a row then the decision to hand him a long-term contract is going to look utterly farcical.

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