Hearts V Rangers at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

31 January 2017
Hearts V Rangers - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hearts boss Ian Cathro sees bright future for injured defender John Souttar

Hearts boss Ian Cathro believes John Souttar can come back better than ever from his injury nightmare.

The Jambos defender had to be stretchered off during Sunday's 4-0 defeat at Celtic Park after suffering a suspected ruptured Achilles.

The worst-case scenario would see the Scotland Under-21 cap ruled out for a year.

Cathro admits that would be a bitter blow for a player who has been tipped as a future candidate for Gordon Strachan's full international squad.

He said: "We are still going through the consultations and things but it doesn't look like it's a great situation.

"We're still checking up some things but he has an Achilles problem for sure.

"Will he miss the rest of the season? That's a possibility.

"The situation with John is one where his career will flourish, irrespective of what has happened.

"He is a very talented, a very motivated young player. He also has a very strong mind, he's had to deal with some bits and pieces of flak and frustration, even from his time at Dundee United.

"That was a bit of a challenge for him but he is a strong young man having dealt with that.

"We need to give him time to address exactly what the situation is. Hopefully it's not that bad."

Cathro was likely to make changes to his side for Wednesday's visit of Rangers even before Souttar sustained his devastating knock at Parkhead.

The Gorgie boss made a triple swoop on Monday, signing former St Mirren forward Esmael Goncalves as well as the Greek pair of Tasos Avlonitis and Alexandros Tziolis and all three are in his squad preparing to face Mark Warburton's team.

That brings the number of new recruits to nine this month, with the additions offset by the departures of Juanma, Igor Rossi, Alim Ozturk, Tony Watt and Robbie Muirhead as well as long-term injuries suffered by Callum Paterson and Souttar.

Cathro reckons his side are now "stronger with more quality", but having won just two of his eight games in charge knows it is now time for his new-look side to prove it.

He said: "I feel we're in a better position but we have a lot of work ahead of us. It's right to say we have had a difficult period but it will be us who resolves that."

Warburton is looking for Rangers to show their real form when they return to Tynecastle.

A 2-0 defeat by Hearts in November, in what was Robbie Neilson's last match in charge of the Jambos before Ian Cathro took over as head coach, saw the home side leapfrog the Ibrox club into second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

The Light Blues rallied and have lost only once in eight games since - to rivals Celtic - to regain second spot behind the Parkhead club, who are runaway league leaders.

Warburton, whose side won 2-0 win against Motherwell at Fir Park on Saturday, put their last Tynecastle trip down "a bad day at the office" as he looks to continue their good form.

He said: "We said straight away 'no excuses'. The important thing was how we responded and we responded outstandingly well, beating Aberdeen, beating Hearts etc with very good performances and a good run of games.

"We go into the game on the back of a very good performance (at Motherwell), second-half especially, and we have to take that belief into the game, recognise the challenge and deliver the performance.

"We are getting towards the business end of the season and we have to keep on pushing forward."

Warburton knows it could be a vastly different Hearts side to the one which hosted the Gers in November.

He said: "We are not sure what team we face.

"But we know they will be well organised by Ian and Austin (McPhee, assistant) and we have to expect a very tough challenge.

"But it is about us, if we can go there and deliver a performance we will be fine."

Source: PAR