BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hearts are set to be handed a double defensive boost against Celtic with the return of club captain Alim Ozturk and Brazilian stopper Igor Rossi.
Ozturk sat out Saturday’s 3-0 hammering at the hands of St Johnstone as a precaution after complaining of a tight hamstring ahead of the contest, with Blazej Augustyn deputising.
The 23-year-old missed three months of this season after undergoing surgery to cure a hernia complaint and head coach Robbie Neilson was unwilling to take any risks with the big Turk ahead of crucial encounters against the Hoops, Inverness and Aberdeen before the split.
Neilson was also acutely aware that a booking would have ruled Ozturk out of the mouth-watering clash against Ronny Deila’s men at Tynecastle after the international hiatus.
Nevertheless, the capital club will welcome their skipper back to the heart of defence for the visit of the champions on April 2.
Hearts also hope to have Rossi available as he battles a persistent groin strain.
The former Maritimo man has not completed 90 minutes for the Gorgie club since February 27 and missed the last two league fixtures against Dundee and St Johnstone altogether.
Neilson has been careful not to aggravate the problem, with Rossi expected to be a pivotal player for the Jambos in the run-in.
However, it is understood the Hearts boss expects the two-week international break to afford Rossi sufficient time to recover.