BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS defender Faycal Rherras has been handed an eleventh-hour call-up to the Morocco squad – despite playing only one match for the Jambos in 2017.
The 23-year-old jetted out of Edinburgh on Tuesday after being drafted in by Atlas Lions boss Herve Renard on short notice for the upcoming friendlies against Burkina Faso and Tunisia.
His belated selection came after a swathe of key men were ruled out, with Manuel da Costa, Youssef Ait Bennasser and stalwart Juventus defender Mehdi Benatia all absent for the fixtures in Marrakech.
Nevertheless, Rherras’ call-up comes as something of a surprise, given an 81-minute outing against Partick Thistle in February represents his only action this year after losing his place in the Jambos side to Lennard Sowah.
Rherras joins a host of Hearts players on international duty, with Alexandros Tziolis landing a call-up for the Greece squad, Andraz Struna in line to face Scotland with Slovenia and Africa Cup of Nations champion Arnaud Djoum retaining his place in the Cameroon set-up for upcoming friendlies against Tunisia and Guinea.
Liam Smith has also been named in Scot Gemmill’s Scotland under-21 group.
Tynecastle head coach will hope his players return with a clean bill of health, with their first match after the international break being the visit of champions-elect Celtic next Sunday.