Hearts sweat over Soufian El Hassnaoui fitness after latest blow

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BY ALAN TEMPLE at Deepdale – Capital City Press

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson faces a nervous wait to find out if luckless Soufian El Hassnaoui is destined for another spell on the sidelines.

The rangy 25-year-old limped from the field just prior to full-time during the Jambos’ 1-0 defeat against Preston yesterday after appearing to twist his knee awkwardly.

El Hassnaoui, who only entered the fray as an 83rd-minute replacement for Jamie Walker, will be sent for a scan next week to ascertain the severity of the damage.

Robbie Neilson at Preston
Neilson (L) will send El Hassnaoui for a scan after Hearts return to Scotland today

 

It could be a hammer-blow for the Dutch-Moroccan striker after his maiden season at Tynecastle was hampered by fitness struggles. He made just 10 starts following his arrival from Sparta Rotterdam last summer as he battled groin and ankle complaints.

And Neilson could not hide his concern after seeing El Hassnaoui hobble down the tunnel in Lancashire.

He said: “We will need to have it looked at and get it scanned because it looks like he has twisted his knee.

“Straight away, it seemed bad, but he managed to walk off the pitch so hopefully it’s not too severe.

“He actually cracked his tooth – his back molar – against Stirling Albion, he had to go to the dentist on [Saturday] morning. After all that, now he has twisted his knee as well.

“It has been difficult for Soufi, last season was really hard for him. We hoped to get a good pre-season out of him and, to be fair, he has trained really well despite going through Ramadan.

“We were looking for him to kick on and hopefully this doesn’t prove to be too much of an issue.”

Neilson did, however, confirm that key trio Alim Ozturk, Morgaro Gomis and Prince Buaben could all return to action in next weekend’s glamour home friendly against Everton following recent absences.

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