Hearts are preparing to welcome Japanese forward Kyosuke Tagawa and Australian midfielder Cammy Devlin back into their squad for Saturday’s Edinburgh derby against Hibs. However, Tagawa’s compatriot, Yutaro Oda, remains out alongside English defender Alex Cochrane.
Riccarton coaching staff are encouraged at having Devlin’s energy available after a head knock precluded him from Saturday’s win at Ross County. Tagawa has been absent for a month due to an ankle complaint but is now back training.
Cochrane is making progress from an ankle problem and Oda’s hamstring is healing. They are expected back after the forthcoming international break. Winger Barrie McKay, right-back Nathaniel Atkinson, goalkeeper Craig Gordon and centre-back Craig Halkett are longer-term injuries.
"Cammy will come back into the group. Kyosuke should be back, he has trained over the last few days,” the Hearts head coach Steven Naismith confirmed to the Evening News. “Yutaro won't make it. He and Alex Cochrane are starting to get back on grass, so those two potentially can get back into the group after the international break. They won't make this weekend.”
Hearts benefited from five different scorers in their September fixtures – Oda, Liam Boyce, Jorge Grant, Alex Lowry and Alan Forrest. Their contributions helped ease the burden on captain Lawrence Shankland, who struck five times in six games during August.
“It is pleasing but we carry a threat because we have good players,” said Naismith. The frustration is that we seem to be picking up injuries among our forward players. If there is any area of the pitch where you need a bit of rhythm, it's in attack.
“Individually, players need to be in that run of training, games, training, games, to get sharp and feel that composure. We have struggled with that because we've had so many players coming in and out of the team. It's good that the guys who scored recently are carrying a threat. What that tells me is that they are all fighting to be in the starting line-up.”
Naismith must decide whether Lowry and Forrest merit starting slots against Hibs after they combined for the winning goal at Ross County last weekend.