|Jim Jefferies is getting ready for the visit of Rangers but is having to do so without the services of Marius Zaliukas. The Lithuania defender is fit and ready to play as shown in the behind-closed-doors friendly against St Johnstone on Tuesday. However, owner Vladimir Romanov will not allow Zaliukas to be picked for the first team unless he signs a new deal. Zaliukas' contract with parent club Kaunas ends in December and the centre-back, who has been on loan at Tynecastle for more than four years, has so far rejected Romanov's proposal. Jefferies said: "I'm just going to prepare the team as it stands without him. There's still an opportunity to solve it but that will be up to Marius' agent and the club to sort out. It would be great if we could have him but that situation has been going on for a weeks and we'll just have to wait. If it is sorted out before Sunday it will be a great bonus."
The situation mirrors that of Jose Goncalves, who played just twice in the last five months of his contract earlier this year after refusing to sign a new deal. Before that, former skipper Andy Webster was frozen out of the team in 2006, more than a year before his contract was due to expire. Responding to suggestions he was managing the club with one hand tied behind his back, former Kilmarnock boss Jefferies said: "I have been doing that all my life. Last term I inherited a situation with Jose Goncalves, I came in the middle of it. Jose had his reasons and explained them to me, that was his prerogative. The bottom line is Jose was only fit for one game when I was here and I played him. This is a different situation. Marius is on loan, the aim is to make him a permanent signing."
Meanwhile, Jefferies revealed he had injury concerns over Stephen Elliott, Suso Santana and David Templeton. Elliott, who missed six weeks with a hamstring injury, felt tightness in the same area and was pulled out of the St Johnstone game in midweek. The two wingers have picked up knocks and will also be assessed before Saturday's lunchtime clash against the league leaders.