Hearts defender returns after six months on sidelines and midfielder is back following extended break

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Hearts defender John Souttar has boosted his chances of making a competitive comeback in the Premiership curtain raiser at Celtic after coming through his first game in six months.

The centre-half scored in his 45 minute appearance for the club’s under-20 side in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Civil Service Strollers.

Souttar has not featured at first team level since rupturing his Achilles tendon at Celtic Park in January’s 4-0 defeat but is now desperate to return to action against Brendan Rodgers’ treble winners on August 5.

The former Dundee United player is well ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation having been told initially that he could face up to a year on the sidelines.

Speaking recently Souttar said: “Playing against Celtic is a realistic target and hopefully I can make it.

“When I originally picked up the injury I wouldn’t have thought there was any chance of that. October looked a bit more realistic.

“If it happens, brilliant. If it doesn’t, I won’t get too down about it. The main thing is to come back back properly, but it would be fitting to do it against Celtic – especially if we got a result.”

Meanwhile head coach Ian Cathro, whose side beat Elgin City 1-0 in the Betfred Cup in their first game of the season on Tuesday, was delighted to welcome Arnaud Djoum to training yesterday.

The Cameroon internationalist had been given an extended summer break after playing for his country in the Confederations Cup in Russia.

Djoum started all three matches against Germany, Australia and Chile as Hugh Broos side finished bottom of Group B.

The 28-year-old, who joined Hearts from Polish side Lech Poznan in September in 2015, claimed earlier this summer that he had hoped to join one of Europe’s top five leagues, with French top-flight club Bordeaux said to be interested.

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