BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Prince Buaben insists the Hearts family will rally around Morgaro Gomis following the loss of his father.
The Senegal internationalist missed last Friday’s 2-0 defeat against Inverness Caledonian Thistle after being granted compassionate leave following the bereavement and has yet to return to the country.
Gomis is expected to arrive back in Scotland today, just 24 hours before of the Jambos’ sternest test of the campaign against league leaders Aberdeen at Tynecastle
However, head coach Robbie Neilson is hopeful that Gomis will take his place in midfield, stating: “I expect to have him available. It’s been a difficult time for him after his father passed away, but it’s not a concern putting him straight in.”
Having fostered a friendship and bond over five years together at Dundee United and Hearts, Buaben will give Gomis all the support he needs – on and off the pitch.
Buaben said: “I see him as a brother, he is a good friend. I have spoken to him this week but I know that this is a very difficult time for him, so I have given him space.
“Morgaro is a hard-working, determined man, but this is a hard thing to talk about. All I can do is encourage him to stay strong.
“We are all with him as a team and we all support him. Everyone has sent him a text and told him to stay strong, but the best thing is for him to be with his family for a few days.
“The gaffer is trying to get him back for the match so hopefully that happens, but it is a decision for Morgaro.”
Although football was an irrelevancy compared to Gomis’ loss, his presence was certainly missed during Hearts’ defeat in the Highlands, with 17-year-old Sean McKirdy handed a debut in his place.
While McKirdy has plenty of promise, it was a baptism of fire for the talented teenager.
Buaben believe Hearts do possess strength in depth – but acknowledges the importance of former Birmingham City star Gomis in heart of midfield against a side of the quality of Aberdeen.
The twice-capped Ghanian continued: “Whoever plays beside me, I will try to work with them, but I have played with Morgaro for five seasons, so it is only natural that I know him very well.
“With the other players, I have only played with them for one season. When I play with Morgaro, we understand each other very well and there is not much I need to say.
“It is the same with any good friend, when he is not alongside you, you miss him a lot. But we have guys that can play if Morgaro is not available.”
Regardless of who partners him – Miguel Pallardo is also in contention to start – Buaben is under no illusions about the size of task awaiting the Jambos.
Aberdeen arrive in Gorgie, a venue where they have not won since January 2010, with a 100 per cent record and riding high at the summit of the Premiership.
Their blistering start to the campaign can be partly attributed to their swift return to action for European duty this season, according to Buaben. However he believes Hearts can derail the Dons juggernaut.
He added: “They [Aberdeen] have started the game ahead of everyone, playing games in Europe, so they will be sharper than us.
“But this is football, so anything can happen. We just need to give it our best and see what happens.”