First Team

Craig hopeful for defensive duo

8th March 2018

Craig Levein will give Christophe Berra and John Souttar every chance to prove fitness for Friday night derby against Hibernian.

Craig Levein will give his walking wounded until the last minute to prove their fitness ahead of tomorrow night’s Edinburgh derby.

The Jambos visit Easter Road for the fourth derby match of the season and the manager has revealed that the centre-back pairing of Christophe Berra and John Souttar are both carrying knocks.

He’s prepared, however, to give the duo as much time as possible to make the capital clash, and is hopeful both names will be on his teamsheet.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference today, Craig said: “I’m hopeful Christophe will be fit to play, and John Souttar.

“John’s got a hamstring problem and Christophe got a bang on the head.

“We’ve followed all of the correct procedures and he wasn’t concussed, so I’m hopeful.

“The problem actually isn’t so much the bang on the head but he had an injection on his ankle to play on Sunday.

“That’s causing him a little bit of bother as well, so a few sticking plasters are required but I’m hopeful he’ll be fine.

“They’re both desperate to play and I’m hopeful that they’ll both be fine.

“It might be that we’re last minute for one of two of them. We’ll just have to see.”

One player that Craig may have to do without the services of is David Milinkovic. The winger picked up an injury in training and he looks set to lose his battle to be fit for tomorrow evening.

“David had a blocked tackle in training yesterday and he’s hurt his knee, unfortunately,” said Craig. “So it looks like he’ll miss out.”

Hearts will be looking for a win to cut the gap between the two clubs to six points. While three points may be the aim, Craig knows there is much more at stake in this meeting between two old rivals.

“It’s always a massive game,” he said. “I love this fixture and it’s always a big game.

“There’s only three points at stake, I get that, but for me there is more importance attached to this than a lot of matches that we play, just because of the nature of the game and the rivalry between the two clubs and the supporters.

“We do hope, obviously, that we come out of the game six points behind.”

Craig’s press conference is available to watch in full on HeartsTV.