BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS head coach Ian Cathro will consider affording Arnaud Djoum an extended close season break after the key midfielder was called up for a gruelling summer of action with Cameroon.
The 28-year-old has been named in Hugo Broos’ squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Morocco (June 10) before facing Colombia in a friendly three days later.
Djoum will then jet out to Russia for the Confederations Cup, where the Indomitable Lions are in Group B alongside Australia, Chile and reigning World champions Germany.
The competition runs between June 17 and July 2, meaning Djoum may still be in action just 13 days before the new SPFL season is slated to start – with the curtain-raising Betfred Cup on July 15.
It is a dilemma Cathro is conscious of as he seeks to ensure one of his prize assets is fresh for next season.
“It’s another four month stint somewhere!” joked Cathro.
“No, I have spoken to him about it and we know we need to get him available and get him ready.
“He needs to be the best version of himself – so if we need to manage a period of rest somewhere then we will do that. It is about scheduling that and supporting it. However, for the moment, it depends on how the tournament goes.”
Djoum, capped eight times, enjoyed a fairytale campaign last season as he helped his nation claim the Africa Cup of Nations, starting every match from the knock-out phase onwards, including their historic triumph over Egypt in the final.
However, he failed to recapture his best form on his return from a life-changing success Gabon, scoring two in the final three months of the season compared to four prior to the tournament.
“It’s been a busy time for him,” acknowledged Cathro. “And sometimes it’s just as had to recover from the highs as it is from the lows.”
Meanwhile, the Jambos have signed promising striker Alistair Roy to a new two-year contract.
The 19-year-old spent last season on loan in League 1 with Stenhousemuir, scoring three goals in 15 starts for the Ochilview outfit, while also turning out for the capital club’s Development Squad.
Hearts youth boss Jon Daly is known to be a fan of the youngster and it is hoped he could push for a place in Cathro’s new-look senior set-up next term.