Hearts to make late decision on Igor Rossi fitness as midfielder signs new contract

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BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson will make a late decision on the fitness of star defender Igor Rossi ahead of this weekend’s Premiership clash with St Johnstone.

The 26-year-old sat out last weekend’s 1-0 victory against Dundee as he nurses a persistent groin strain, having only been able to complete 80 minutes of his previous two outings.

Jordan McGhee deputised at left-back in Tayside, with young Liam Smith impressing on the opposite flank as the Jambos backline secured their fourth successive clean sheet.

Igor Rossi pitch
Neilson is loathe to take any risks with Rossi

Neilson hopes to pitch the towering Brazilian back into training today, however the Hearts gaffer is wary of aggravating the niggle in the final match before a two-week international break which will afford Rossi some much-needed rest.

The versatile defender, who has impressed at full-back and centre-half, has made 32 appearances this season and was rewarded for his form with a contract extension until 2017.

And Neilson is desperate to have him fully fit for the closing months of the campaign as Hearts eye a return to Europe.

Meanwhile, Hearts have handed a new deal to one of their brightest midfield prospects. Angus Beith, 20, has penned a contract until the summer of 2017 as the Jambos plan for the future.

The youngster made his senior debut for the capital club in August 2014 as a much-changed Hearts side succumbed to a 4-1 defeat against Livingston in the Petrofac Training Cup.

He subsequently spent the second half of the 2014/15 campaign on loan at Stirling Albion, scoring once in 19 appearances for the Binos.

Stand-out

His progress was halted at the start of this season when he was forced to undergo surgery to cure a hip complaint but, after fighting his way back to full fitness, Beith has captained Jon Daly’s under-20s side to the SFA Youth Cup final.

Neilson told Hearts News: “I’m happy to get Angus signed up for another year because he has the potential to be a top player.

“He’s talented and is a continual stand-out for the U20s, and had it not been for his unfortunate injury in the summer, then he may have been pushing to be in the first team by this point.

“His contract is a reward for his hard work but it’s now up to him to continue his development and kick on next season in the first-team environment.”

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