BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
HEARTS’ chances of having midfielder Perry Kitchen back for the start of their Europa League campaign later this month have suffered a blow after the United States progressed to the quarter-finals of the Copa America.
The 24-year-old was an unused substitute as the Americans defeated Paraguay 1-0 with a Clint Dempsey goal in Philadelphia on Saturday.
Following Costa Rica’s surprise 3-2 win over Colombia hours later, it means Jurgen Klinsmann’s side top Group A and are through to the last-eight of the tournament later this week.
With Kitchen’s involvement at the competition now extended to at least Thursday – and with Hearts keen for the former DC United player to enjoy some rest before returning to club duty – it now seems highly unlikely the Indianapolis-born play-maker will be involved in the Jambos’ first round qualifier on June 30 and July 7.
Should the US progress any further, the semi-finals are scheduled to take place on June 21 and the final five days later, further delaying Kitchen’s likely return to Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, Hearts have announced record season-ticket sales after breaking through the 13,500 barrier set last year.
Tynecastle is set to host another campaign of sell-out crowds, with only a limited number of season-tickets still available ahead of today’s deadline for phase-one pricing.