HEARTS are sweating over the fitness of John Souttar after the Scotland international underwent a scan on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old limped off just 39 minutes into the Jambos’ breathless 3-2 defeat against Aberdeen last Friday night following a nasty ankle knock.
Initial fears are that Souttar has suffered ligament damage and could face several weeks on the sidelines.
Tynecastle chiefs are now nervously waiting to find out the full extent of the damage to one of their prize assets.
The former Dundee United stopper is no stranger to injury woes during his time in Gorgie, having endured a six-month absence due to a ruptured achilles sustained in January 2017, before missing 12 weeks with a hip complaint last term.
Meanwhile, Gary Naysmith insists he is relishing the opportunity to shape the next generation of Tynecastle talent after returning to Hearts as their loans manager.
Naysmith, 40, will play a major part in the career progress of the Jambos’ youngsters after he was handed a wide-ranging role by boss Craig Levein.
The former Scotland and Everton defender will be involved in everything from helping to decide where to send starlets, liaising regularly with boss Craig Levein and scouts, and overseeing the players’ progress.
“Even when I was a manager I really liked to try and take younger players, permanently or on loan from Premiership clubs to try and develop them, and it’s a very similar role,” said Naysmith.
“In the English Premier League, every club has a loans manager. A few teams in Scotland have them too and I do think it’s a role that is going to get bigger and grow in importance as the seasons go on.
“I’m going to have a big input in which club the player goes to. You need to make sure he’s playing at a level that his ability should be playing at.
“There is a bit of homework involved in identifying the right clubs and once we do get boys out on loan it’s then up to me to keep an eye on their progress, manage other scouts who will be working underneath me and make sure we’re covering everybody on a regular basis.
“Then we can report back to the management team about progress, and sometimes lack of progress, that players are making.”
Naysmith, who made more the 100 appearances for Hearts after emerging through the youth ranks, is returning to football after being dismissed by Queen of the South in May, mere days prior to the Championship playoffs.
He also had an altogether more positive spell in charge of East Fife.
And he is determined to be a valuable asset in his new role.
The 1998 Hearts Scottish Cup winner told Hearts’ official website: “I hope it’s good for the boys to have me in this position.
“I think it helps that Craig [Levein] has put his trust in me.
“I want to help the players become better, to benefit their careers and if we can do that then it can only benefit Hearts.”