Robbie Neilson insists Peter Haring can still be a key player for Hearts once he is back to peak fitness.
The Austrian midfielder was sent off within five minutes of coming on at the end of Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Dundee after catching Declan McDaid with a high challenge.
Haring has only managed four starts in a total of nine Championship outings this season as he attempts to get himself back up to speed after missing all of last term with a persistent groin problem
The Covid-19 restrictions have hampered Haring’s bid to attain match sharpness and Neilson insists the 27-year-old desperately needs minutes on the pitch.
Neilson, whose side are now 15 points clear at the top of the second tier, said: “It’s difficult for the big man, he has been brilliant since we came in.
“He’s had a difficult period being out and he is one of the guys this season that needs games.
“Because there is no reserve football, or we don’t play any bounce games, he has not been able to get the games to get up to speed to get into the team.
“We’ve got a few reserve games coming up that we will hopefully get him playing.
“I’m not sure how the suspension will work with these games right enough but it’s difficult for the big man.
“There is no doubt when he is up to speed and has full fitness that he will be a key player for us but it’s just trying to get him there.
“It was probably an overeagerness to show himself on Saturday that resulted in the red card.”
Meanwhile, Neilson has challenged his players to go on an unbeaten league run between now and the end of the campaign.
He added: “We’re sitting in a good position, 15 points clear.
“Raith (Rovers) have got three games in hand but I would rather be sitting in this position than theirs, that’s for sure.
“We had three draws before Dundee and to be honest we probably played better in some of them than we did on Saturday, with more chances.
“It is pleasing to get three points on the board, we’re now seven unbeaten, we’ve got eight games to go and we’d like to keep that going and remain unbeaten until the end of the season.”