Almost every side in the SPL has had an extended run of form at one point or another this season and currently it is the turn of Hamilton who have won five of their last six matches. Hearts travel to New Douglas Park tomorrow to take on a side who, since their 7-1 defeat at Ibrox, have reverted back to basics, conceding only once in their recent run.
Although possessing some of the league’s oldest campaigners the Accies squad has its fair share of exciting young talent, none more so than James McCarthy. The 18-year-old midfielder has been one of the stand out performers for Hamilton this season and will be one of his team’s main threats tomorrow. He will be expected to get forward along with Paul McGowan and support lone-striker Richard Offiong, who scored the winner against Kilmarnock last week, has six goals this season so far, and will be looking to make up for the sitter he missed during his substitute appearance at Tynecastle the last time the two sides met.
Like Accies, Hearts’ recent defensive record also reads quite well, although what the stats fail to show is the chances the opposition have been allowed but failed to convert in recent weeks. A fortnight ago Kilmarnock had three chances they should have scored before Hearts even got a sniff at goal; and likewise, more recently, Inverness missed two glaring opportunities with the score still deadlocked. A few of said chances have been our inability to defend effectively at set-pieces but the return of Marius Zaliukas should help strengthen us in this department. Eggert Jonsson, who deputised for Zaliukas during his recent suspension, has performed no matter where he has played this season (perhaps with the exception of right midfield) but he has been caught out a few times in the last few games. It would be slightly unfair for Jonsson to be dropped for tomorrow’s encounter but I would much prefer to have Zaliukas back alongside Berra.
The rest of the side will likely remain unchanged from the victory last week. Ruben Palazuelos is still out injured and Laryea Kingston, who scored the winner in that game, is still recovering and will likely start on the bench again. “The Balogh” has recovered from injury but is still not officially a Hearts player so Jamie MacDonald will continue in goals.
Recent stats would suggest there will not be many goals tomorrow and Hearts will almost definitely be once again relying on the goals to come from midfield. Christian Nade continues to look one of the least likely players to get on the scoresheet, but with little competition and the clubs lack of activity in the transfer market there are few other options.
McClenahan McLaughlin Canning Easton
Neilson Zaliukas Berra Wallace
Obua Aguiar Driver