First Team

Waiting game

15th February 2018

Don Cowie returns for Hearts' trip to Ross County but Craig Levein will wait to see if Steven Naismith is fit for selection.

Craig Levein will welcome Don Cowie back into the fold for Saturday’s trip to Dingwall, but is still waiting to find out if Steven Naismith will be fit enough to face Ross County.

The Jambos make the long trip north for Ladbrokes Premiership duty on fine form, having lost just once in the last 15 games, keeping 11 clean sheets in the process.

Cowie will make a welcome return to the first-team after missing the last two games, but the gaffer admits he’s not sure yet if Scotland forward Naismith will feature in the Highlands.

“We had a number of problems last week,” said Craig. “Don Cowie will be fit and available to play. Naismith has not improved as quickly as I thought he might, so I don’t know. That’s touch and go.

“He’s just got a tight hamstring, its nothing serious. I thought he would’ve made Saturday.

“If he doesn’t make this weekend, and I’m not ruling out yet but he’s just not come on as well as I’d hoped, then he’s missing it by a day or two days, that’s all.

“Obviously I’d like him to be fit and available but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Hearts are unbeaten in Dingwall since 2013 but Craig believes his team will be a facing a side full of confidence after an impressive away win at Dundee last weekend.

“I obviously noted with interest the result that Ross County had at Dundee,” he said. “To go there and win 4-1 was a fairly significant achievement.

“Owen has signed a number of players in the transfer window and I’m sure he’ll be looking at that match and seeing it as a potential situation where they’ve turned a corner and are going to get themselves back up the league.

“My job on Saturday as the Hearts manager is to try and make them feel like that’s not the case, that they’re under pressure and we’re going there to try and win the game and try and keep the pressure on Ross County.”

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