Perry Kitchen return in time for Hearts’ Europa League qualifiers in doubt after US progress in Copa America

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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.

(Pic: heartsfc.co.uk)
(Pic: heartsfc.co.uk)

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.

@IainCollin

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