Hearts manager Craig Levein admits he is hopeful defender Michael Smith can make a welcome comeback in tomorrow’s derby visit of Hibs.
The Northern Ireland cap has been sidelined since tearing a thigh muscle in the February 10 Scottish Cup victory over Auchinleck Talbot and has sat out the last nine matches.
Smith’s availability for Saturday’s televised clash would be a significant boost, with the 30-year-old, who signed a new deal at the turn of the year, considered one of the team’s most reliable performers this season.
Striker Uche Ikpeazu, is also expected to return to the side after sitting out Wednesday’s toothless 3-0 defeat at Rangers due to concussion, and Levein insists the pair are exactly the type of players you need in a derby match.
He said: “That aggression will naturally come back with Uche coming back into the team and I’m hopeful of having Michael Smith back as well.
“Even with those two we will have more aggression, more experience, more speed.
“Uche probably provides us with that most aggression in the front line.
“Against Rangers, I also felt we were too passive defensively, we got enough people behind the ball but we didn’t really play with any real aggression.
“The most important thing now is the game on Saturday and we’ll get the minds focussed on that.
“I’m sure we’ll be in good shape for Saturday.”