Hearts striker Steven Naismith on course to make Ibrox return for first time in nearly six years

0
1029

Hearts striker Steven Naismith is winning his battle to make his first appearance at Ibrox since quitting Rangers nearly six years ago.

The Scotland internationalist has returned to training with Craig Levein’s side after missing the last two matches with a hamstring strain and is expected to be included in the match-day squad for the trip along the M8.

Naismith left Rangers under a cloud in 2012 at the height of the club’s financial troubles after he refused to allow his contract to be transferred to the new company.

(PIC: heartsfc.co.uk)

Naismith, who won three top-flight titles during his time with Govan outfit – scoring 33 goals, subsequently moved to Everton and returned north of the border with Hearts last month after agreeing a loan switch from Norwich City.

The 31-year-old could form a striking partnership with ex-Rangers striker Kyle Lafferty for only the second time on Saturday.

Levein said: “It was a tight hamstring with Steven, it was nothing serious and I thought he would have made last weekend but it didn’t come on as well as we hoped.”

Midfielder Harry Cochrane is also in line to make a first team return at Ibrox having been sidelined since coming off second best in a challenge with Celtic captain Scott Brown during the January 30 defeat at Parkhead.

The 16-year-old sustained a damaged collarbone and Levein accused Brown of deliberately ‘targeting’ the playmaker.

However, Cochrane has also returned to training at the club’s Oriam training base and is set to be included in the squad following a three-game absence.

Levein, meanwhile, is hoping to extend striker Ghislain Guessan’s trial period for another week after the 25 year-old netted in the under-20’s 2-1 victory over Dundee United on Tuesday evening.

The Ivorian, who notched one goal in three appearances for Norwegian top-flight strugglers Viking during the first half of the season, scored after 25 minutes in the indoor encounter at Oriam and was replaced in the 80th minute.

Levein had been keen to bolster his attacking options before last month’s transfer window closed and is adamant that he will not sign a forward just to make up the numbers.

Levein added: “If I do sign somebody, I will feel that he can absolutely help the group – it won’t just be because he can play as a striker.

“That’s the test for me now, to find somebody who can improve on what we’ve got or if Kyle or Steven are injured, then he can then lead the line and help us.

“I feel the squad and the group is strong. When I look at the bench I see quality and that makes me feel good.”