Hearts and Scotland dealt huge blow as Steven Naismith is ruled out for two months with injury requiring surgery
- Steven Naismith is likely to be out after a scan showed he had a cartilage tear
- It means he has been ruled out of Scotland’s upcoming Nations League games
- It adds to mounting issues for Hearts’ Craig Levein and Scotland’s Alex McLeish
Hearts and Scotland have suffered a major blow after Steven Naismith was told he needed knee surgery.
The 32-year-old is likely to be out for about six to eight weeks after a scan showed a cartilage tear after he broke down early in Hearts’ Betfred Cup defeat by Celtic.
Naismith will miss games against Hibernian and Celtic this week alone for the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders and has been ruled out of Scotland’s Nations League deciders against Albania and Israel.
Steven Naismith has been ruled out for two months after a scan revealed he needed surgery
The on-loan Norwich player has scored 11 goals for Hearts this season and two for his country and his absence adds to issues for both club boss Craig Levein and international manager Alex McLeish.
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has not played since pulling out of the last Scotland squad for fitness reasons while Levein recently lost striker Uche Ikpeazu for five months.
Naismith was wearing the captain’s armband amid the long-term absences of Christophe Berra and John Souttar while another centre-back, Clevid Dikamona, and midfielder Peter Haring are injury doubts for Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.
Levein said: ‘We’ve had a number of blows in the last three or four weeks so we will just have to cope with this one as well as we have done with the other ones. It does leave us a bit thin on the ground up top with Uche being out as well, but we’ll get by.
‘It’s important players, that’s the thing. But we have played quite a few matches without Christophe and Uche and John already and I feel good about the depth of the squad.
‘I am probably going to ask one or two players who are not 100 per cent to give everything they have got .’
He picked up the injury during Hearts’ Betfred Cup semi-final defeat on Sunday afternoon
Hearts are set to be missing another striker, Steven MacLean, for two games after the derby after the 36-year-old was handed a Scottish Football Association charge for appearing to grab Celtic midfielder Eboue Kouassi’s private parts.
But Levein does have options to bring players in.
‘We have a number of players, two in particular in Craig Wighton and Sean Clare, who are getting up to speed now and look like they can help us,’ he said. ‘An opportunity has arisen maybe quicker than they thought it would. They have good chances of being involved.’
The former Scotland manager added: ‘We’ve got players who behave like captains even though they’re not. There’s Steven MacLean, apart from his recent…..he’s been great on the field helping everybody else. Olly Lee and Peter have been very strong in that midfield area, so that has helped as well.
‘It’s not just the players who are missing, we have other players who are capable of displaying captain-like qualities.’
Fellow striker Steven Maclean has also been banned after an incident with Eboue Kouassi
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