Aberdeen 3-2 Heart of Midlothian
Sunday 4th August 2019, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Pittodrie
Hearts could give a third debut to new signing Steven Naismith, who was finally unveiled as Hearts player on Thursday. "He [Steven Naismith] might be on the bench on Sunday," Craig Levein said, adding, "We need to see how he gets through training in the next couple of days and then we’ll see.”
However, the manager is are sweating over the fitness of Conor Washington who is still nursing an eye injury he picked up against Stenhousemuir.
If he remains on the sidelines, he has good company in Peter Haring (pelvis), Olly Lee, Callumn Morrison and Ben Garuccio (all knee) – although the latter will return to Edinburgh shortly to finish his rehabilitation.
Craig Wighton (knee) is just short of fitness after picking up a knock in pre-season and did not feature in any of the Betfred Cup group matches.
In Aberdeen team news, speculation continues to swirl around Stevie May who appears to be on his way out of Pittodrie. Dundee had made an offer for the once-capped striker, whilst a move to St Johnstone collapsed last week.
New signing Craig Bryson made his debut in the first-leg tie against Chikhura Sachkhere and left-back Greig Leigh made a goalscoring debut on Thursday night at Pittodrie against the Georgians.
Derek McInnes has been left short of defensive options after Ash Taylor limped out of the first leg in Tbilisi, joining Michael Devlin in the treatment room.
Connor McLennan, Ethan Ross, and Stephen Gleeson all continue to miss out for the Dons.
Hearts finished top of their Betfred Cup group, although manager Craig Levein admitted it was not done in the style he would have liked.
With two wins and a draw, the Jambos just had to pick up a point against East Fife. They did just that but lost on penalties, allowing the Fifers to pick up the bonus point.
With over 70 shots in four games they have only scored six goals – Craig Levein will be keen to hit the goal trail on Sunday.
After a tame pre-season, Aberdeen’s European journey got underway. They travelled to Finland in the First Round of Europa League Qualifying to take on Rovaniemi, winning both legs 2-1.
Last week, they travelled to Tbilisi to take on Chikhura Sachkhere where they drew 1-1 and on Thursday night they dispatched the Georgians 5-0. Sam Cosgrove bagged himself a hat-trick alongside goals from Greg Leigh and Scott Wright.
Both sides won on their home patch last season, with two wins apiece.
The most recent clash came just two weeks before the Scottish Cup Final, when the Dons ran out 2-1 winners at Pittodrie.
Lewis Ferguson grabbed the first before Bobby Burns scored his first goal for the Jambos – and Hearts’ first goal at Pittodrie since 2016. Unfortunately for the visitors, Greg Stewart scored a fantastic winner and their winless streak in Aberdeen was extended to six games.
What Craig Said:
"Once you’ve done it (played in Europe) as many times as Aberdeen have recently then you’ll know what you’re facing and what to expect.
“Derek will know whether he needs to change some players to freshen things up because he’s been very successful in that regard.
“I don’t expect Aberdeen to be in any way weakened by their European exploits.”
You can watch Craig's press conference in full on HeartsTV by clicking here.