BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
HEARTS pair Aaron Hughes and Bjorn Johnsen will return to training next Monday after head coach Ian Cathro afforded the duo an extended summer break.
Both players were notable absentees on Tuesday as the Jambos marked their return to action with an open session at their Riccarton base. Arnaud Djoum, meanwhile, is currently on Cameroon duty at the Confederations Cup.
Nigerian internationalist Juwon Oshaniwa, who the club are keen to offload during the close season, was the other first-team player not to take part.
However, it is understood that Hughes and Johnsen are due to begin their pre-season preparations at the start of next week after the Hearts staff took into account their international exertions.
Hughes, 37, took his tally of Northern Ireland caps to 106 after featuring in a 1-0 friendly win over New Zealand at Windsor Park before making the 7000-mile round trip to Azerbaijan – and playing the full match as Michael O’Neill’s men secured another gutsy 1-0.
With the veteran stopper having endured a miserable final few months of last season due to a persistent calf complaint, the capital club are keen for him to enjoy some additional time off to rest up ahead of another gruelling campaign.
The same applies to Johnsen, who made his international debut for Norway in a recent World Cup qualification draw against the Czech Republic before starting the subsequent glamour friendly with Scandinavian rivals Sweden.
His future remains in some doubt following a high-profile bust-up with Cathro at half-time of Hearts’ 1-0 defeat against St Johnstone on May 17, nevertheless he is expected to report for training on Monday morning.