Hearts boss Robbie Neilson is convinced key defenders John Souttar and Craig Halkett will both be available for next month’s Scottish Cup final against Rangers.
The duo were deemed to be in a race to be fit for the Hampden showdown on May 21, but the Tynecastle boss fully anticipates having them in contention for a starting place.
Souttar has been sidelined since the start of March with an ankle problem, while Halkett’s season initially looked to be over when he was stretchered off in the semi-final win over Hibernian earlier this month.
Asked – on a scale of one to 10 – about their chances of being ready to face Rangers in the season’s showpiece match, Neilson said: “11 out of 10, they will be fit for the final. I would expect them both to be available for it.
“John’s on the (training) pitch now running, building up. Craig will probably be available for the league game against Rangers (the week before the final) and will probably play a part in it, then there will be a decision about whether he actually plays in the final, but both should be available.
“It’s great news. For us, it’s about getting everyone as fit and game ready for the final as we can. The only one at this moment in time that will miss it is Beni Baningime.”
Neilson also confirmed that Stephen Kingsley and Andy Halliday will be available to return against Ross County this weekend after being forced off in the semi-final and sitting out last weekend’s trip to Dundee United.
Cammy Devlin is still working his way back to full fitness after his recent hamstring problem and the midfielder – although on the bench for the last two matches – is unlikely to feature against County.
Neilson is still waiting for Peter Haring to make a decision over whether to accept the offer of a new contract at Hearts. The 28-year-old Austrian’s deal expires this summer.
“There’s no update with Peter’s situation,” said Neilson. “I’ve left that with (sporting director) Joe Savage. Peter’s a really good player and we want to keep him here.
“He’s an experienced player and he’s a really intelligent guy and he just feels he’s got to make the right decision at this stage of his career. We’ll give him all the time in the world. We’ve put an offer to him and we’re just waiting to hear back.”