First Team

Heart of Midlothian 1-0 Motherwell

Saturday 8th December 2018, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park

Match Preview

Team News

Hearts will reamin without Jimmy Dunne (ankle), John Souttar (hip), Steven Naismith (knee), and Uche Ikpeazu (foot).

Christophe Berra played another full 90 minutes in the mid-week trip to St Johnstone, his second game in his return from a torn hamstring, and Craig Levein will make another late call on the skipper's fitness.

Meanwhile, Jamie Brandon played 45 minutes against Dunfermline's Reserves during the week as he comes back from an ACL injury. The 1-0 victory in Kelty was his first match in 10 months.

Motherwell have been hit with an injury crisis of their own in the last few weeks, with two key players ruled out indefinitely.

Chris Cadden (knee) will miss at least four months aftyer ripping his patella tendon, whereas shot-stopper Trevor Carson has been ruled out for the rest of the season with DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

Elsewhere, rap sensation Charles Dunne (groin) missed the draw with Celtic but is expected to return for the trip to Tynecastle. Forward Craig Tanner (knee) will definitely miss out.

Defenders Peter Hartley and Liam Donnelly were both taken off after 15 minutes in the mid-week match against Celtic and are now doubtful for Saturday's game. The man who replaced Donnelly, 20-year-old Adam Livingstone, was also replaced late on due to injury.

Form

Hearts picked up their first points since October during the week with a mid-week draw against St Johnstone in Perth.

Goals from Arnaud Djoum and Ollie Bozanic had given the Jambos a 2-1 lead before a controversial penalty decision saw Matty Kennedy equalise from the spot.

Motherwell have been very inconsistent of late but picked up one of their best results of the season on Wednesday night.

Celtic travelled to Fir Park during the week and took an early lead through Ryan Christie. Leigh Griffiths missed the chance to extend the lead before half-time as his penalty was saved and he would be made to rue that miss as Danny Johnson scored an 88th minute equaliser for the Well.

Prior to that, Well lost 2-0 to Livingston. That defeat came after it looked the Steelmen had turned a corner with a 3-0 victory over Aberdeen - which was a terrific bounceback after a 7-1 mauling at Ibrox at the hands of Rangers.

Head to Head

The sides have met twice so far this season, with Hearts recording two victories.

The first clash was the first league meeting at Fir Park, which finished 1-0 after a Steven Naismith strike. 

Then, eleven days later, they met in the League Cup quarter-finals at Tynecastle, where the Jambos needed to late goals to record a 4-2 victory. 

A Curtis Main penalty opened the scoring before goals either side of half time from Steven MacLean and Peter Haring put the Jambos ahead. Ryan Bowman scored in the 80th minute as it looked the tie might head to extra time.

But with only two minutes remaining of the 90, Olly Lee scored what looked to be a late winner. However, it was Steven Naimsmith who put the cherry on the icing on the cake, scoring a late breakaway goal to leave it 4-2 on the night.

Looking further back, Hearts have won six of the last ten matches between the two sides and haven't lost to the Steelmen at home since 2014 when a John Sutton strike separated the two sides.

What Craig Said:

"I've been pleased with the boys, in particular the last couple of games. I see signs of progress.

"Despite the problems that we've had, they're still focused and still working extremely hard - and we'll need to do that tomorrow. It's a big game for us.

"They've had a lot of knocks and we've been shunted off track a little bit. We're getting back to a position where we're more like ourselves. Tomorrow, hopefully, is a good result and a good performance from us.

"I know Stephen [Robinson], I know his teams, I know how they play. We had a cracking match here in the cup earlier on in the season, it was a wonderful game of football. Hopefully we can provide the supporters with the same sort of thing again.

"We're at home and I feel that there's a bit of a spark back in the team. It would be fantastic for us if we could pick up three points tomorrow."

You can catch all of Craig's press conference here.