Heart of Midlothian 2-0 St Johnstone
Saturday 26th January 2019, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
John Souttar made his return to first-team action during the mid-week loss to Dundee, coming on as a second-half substitute. It was his first appearance in three months following hip surgery in October.
Uche Ikpeazu (foot) and Peter Haring (hernia) will miss out, with Ikpeazu expected to return in the next few weeks and Haring scheduled to come back by mid-February. Steven Naismith also returns from suspension.
Only two players missed St Johnstone’s mid-week win over Livingston through injury.
Drey Wright is out long-term after he damaged his ACL in December and will miss the rest of the season. Brian Easton hasn’t played any first-team football this season but is in the “final stretch” of his recovery from a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Murray Davidson recovered from a bruised thigh to play and score against Livingston and could feature again at the weekend. Zander Clark, Liam Gordon and Blair Alston have also returned to the squad following injuries.
Their only January signing so far, former player Michael O’Halloran, came off the bench on Wednesday night and is in line to start against the Jambos. The Saints have also recalled striker Callum Hendry from Brechin City and he goes straight into the squad.
Hearts were not able to build on a solid run of form as they lost 2-1 to Dundee during the week. Despite that, the Jambos have three wins in their last four.
The hosts were poor in the rare home loss on Wednesday night with goals from Genseric Kusunga and Andrew Nelson downing Craig Levein’s men.
St Johnstone have not conceded since a goal since before Christmas Day when they lost 2-1 to Rangers. Since then, they’ve kept four clean sheets on the bounce and won all of those games.
After the winter break, the Saints have dispatched Hamilton Accies in the cup and beat Livingston during the week thanks to a Murray Davidson goal.
Head to Head
Hearts have met St Johnstone on 166 competitive occasions, winning 78 of those clashes. At Tynecastle, there have been 80 fixtures with the Saints only picking up 16 wins.
The Jambos haven’t lost in six outings against St Johnstone in a run stretching back to the 2016-17 season. Of those six games, Hearts have come out on top on four occasions.
It’s been even longer since the Saints won at Tynecastle. They won 3-0 in March 2016 thanks to a Murray Davidson double and a late goal from Darnell Fisher.
What Craig Said:
"I watched the game back and I was unhappy with the first-half but when I watched the second-half again, we made a lot more good opportunities than I thought we did at the time.
"I was probably just really disappointed - I'm used to winning at home, the team's used to winning at home. When I watched the game back, we had eight really good chances to score and it's frustrating that we didn't get any goals, but we didn't play as badly as I thought we did."
"There's one thing about this group, there an honest bunch. They themselves were just as frustrated that they hadn't got anything from the match and also that the goals were given to Dundee by mistakes on our part. It's important that everyone knows that the players are honest with themselves and we are honest with ourselves as well."
What Christophe Said:
"It was obvioulsy a disappointing result, given our home record. First-half, we didn't really perform - all credit to Dundee - second-half we were better, created chances, but just couldn't put the ball in the net.
"That's football for you, you've got to be thick-skinned and move on. We've got another game tomorrow against a tough opponent and we'll have to drastically improve our performance.
"Last season they [St Johnstone] maybe hadn't hit the standards they had in the previous year but they've picked up again this year. They've built a good foundation, they're winning games and the manager has done a great job once again.
"It's a big game for us - we beat them at home already, we drew at their place last year and last season we won three of four games against them as well so we'll be going into it confident. We've put the last game to bed now and it's a new game, new opposition, new expectations, pressure, and it's a game we're looking forward to."