Craig Levein admits he’s down to the bare bones for Sunday’s trip to Kilmarnock.
The Jambos visit Rugby Park for the final game of the 2017/18 Ladbrokes Premiership season, but will have to do without the services of several first-team players.
A total of 20 players will not travel west due to a mixture of injuries, suspensions and outstanding loan deals which cannot be called back.
Reflecting on the extraordinary situation, Craig revealed that he had been looking to build upon the midweek derby win over Hibs, but had been brought crashing back down to earth when he walked into Riccarton this morning.
“I can’t believe it, honestly,” he said. “I came back down to earth with a bump this morning…it is what it is, I suppose.
“I am keen to end the season on a high and some of the young lads that will come in will do a good job for us, but it’s about trying to have a core of players who understand the league and know the game, and can help young players. That’s where I’m struggling.
“It looks like we’ve got 15 fit players and three of them are goalies. That’s the whole squad.
“I’ve got Aaron Hughes, Don Cowie, Ross Callachan and Jon McLaughlin. Those are my four fit senior players.
“I got hit by this this morning. I knew about the suspensions, obviously, but there are a few who have come in this morning. Kyle’s doubtful because he hurt his shoulder the other night. That’s given him a bit of pain.
“If they’re fit and I can get them on the field then I need to play them. It’s not about taking risks; I need to put a team out on the field.
“My main reason for doing this is we’ve got supporters going down to Kilmarnock and I just wanted to make sure that everybody was aware that the journey might be a different one if it looks like, and does look like, I’m going to be playing a lot of young players.”
Craig’s press conference is available to watch in full on HeartsTV.