Hearts V Aberdeen at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

07 April 2016
Hearts V Aberdeen - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hearts ready for Aberdeen clash after shaking sickness bug

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson is confident his players will be ready for a "make-or-break" clash with Aberdeen after overcoming a widespread sickness bug.

The Scottish Professional Football League postponed Hearts' midweek clash at Inverness after only eight first-team players started out on the journey to the Highlands following an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis.

But Sam Nicholson, one of the players worst affected by the illness, said ahead of the Aberdeen clash: "Everyone seems fine."

And Neilson added: "We shut down the training ground for two days and that allowed everyone to get over the virus and get some rest before the game.

"It has changed the way we usually prepare. We usually build up for four days before a game. Unfortunately this week we only have one day but it just means (Thursday) is an important day for us. We have to cram everything into one session."

Neilson is hopeful Callum Paterson will return from a shoulder problem while Jamie Walker is fit after being forced off at Celtic with a minor injury.

Left-back Juwon Oshaniwa is suspended while midfielder Don Cowie (calf) remains out.

Aberdeen can close the gap on Celtic to two points ahead of the champions' trip to Motherwell on Saturday but Hearts still have designs on second spot, sitting 12 points adrift with a game in hand.

And Neilson said: "I think it's make or break for first place and second place. I honestly think it's a game that both teams need to win.

"The loser of the game will either be out of first place or out of second place. A draw for both teams isn't good enough.

"We are trying to catch Aberdeen and Aberdeen are trying to catch Celtic, so two teams will go gung-ho to try and get a result."

Aberdeen were given some encouragement in their quest when Celtic were held by Dundee on Tuesday.

Defender Mark Reynolds said of their title chances: "I'm not here to make guesses, all I can say is that we will go out and try and win every game and make it as hard as possible (for Celtic). If we do that then we will see where it takes us.

"All season, all we have looked at is winning the game that has been put in front of us and getting the three points.

"The way we have played this season, we have been up near the top of the league pretty much the whole season and it's just about getting three points.

"People say this game or that game is bigger but for us every three points has been huge. Come Friday it's Hearts and again it's a massive three points.

"Hearts are having a great season themselves and they are sitting third and will be looking to close the gap. Both of us will be looking for three points and I'm sure it will be a great game."

Aberdeen have an unchanged squad, with midfielder Barry Robson still suspended and Peter Pawlett (broken arm) and Adam Rooney (thigh) not ready to return.

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