From fears that his season was over, to staking a claim for a starting berth in the Scottish Cup final – life has moved fast for Craig Halkett.
The central defender had been an ever-present rock at the back for Hearts this season, until a nasty ankle injury sustained in our semi-final win over Hibs forced Halks to depart the pitch on a stretcher. Few would have predicted he’d be back in contention just a month later, Craig included.
“I was in so much pain at that point, I thought there was no chance,” he said.
“Fortunately, after speaking to doctors, physios, and going for a scan, we realised there was a small chance I could get back to it. Thankfully, everything’s worked out pretty smoothly since then to make sure I am.
“I was delighted to get on against Rangers at Tynecastle, it’s obviously been a tough two or three weeks since I picked up the injury. I seriously thought my season was over so to be able to get back out there and look towards Saturday has been really good.”
With the green light given by the Tynecastle medical department, all attention now turns to the biggest game of the season at Hampden on Saturday.
Rangers stand between Hearts and the trophy. A maroon victory at the national stadium would bring a ninth Scottish Cup back to Edinburgh – and represent our first triumph in the competition since the 2012 team wrote their names into Gorgie folklore.
Craig was part of the 2020 squad that was a penalty kick away from immortality. When the two sides meet this weekend, Halks knows what’s within grasp.
“I’m really looking forward to it. You naturally tend to think back to our last Scottish Cup final; it was the middle of the pandemic and there were no fans there. Contrast it to the crowd we took to the game against Hibs, it was huge,” he added.
“To have that kind of backing in a Scottish Cup final will be massive. Being at Hearts, you hear the stories of past teams that won the cup. Even to this day, they still get talked about. They’re legends that have written their names into the history of this football club.
“The chance for this group to achieve that is massive. For every Hearts fan, it’s all they want this season. We’ve had a great campaign but all our focus is now on this one game.
“It’s in our hands now to take it from a good season to a great one.”