Hearts make plea to SPFL over injury crisis at Tynecastle
Craig Levein said he only has 12 fit outfield players for the match against Kilmarnock.
Hearts manager Craig Levein has said he has asked the league for permission to recall development players as he struggles to put together a team together to face Kilmarnock.
In the wake of their derby win over Hibs, Levein said he was hoping for a strong finish but says he now feels fans have to be warned he is struggling to put together a strong team for the season finale at Rugby Park.
"I've brought a list [of injuries] because the first thing I have to say is that I don't know if I've got a team to put on the field," he said.
"With suspensions and injuries it looks like I've got 15 fit players and three of them are goalies. That's the whole squad.
"[Steven] Naismith is suspended, as are [Christophe] Berra and Michael Smith. Demetri [Mitchell] Danny [Amankwaa] and [Joaquim] Adao. So there's six players from the other night who are unavailable."
Hearts have made an application to the SPFL to be allowed to recall young players on development loans but admit they would have to be given special dispensation with the rules not allowing those players to play in senior games.
"I've got four development loans who are out just now who I would like to use but obviously we need to get the okay from the league," Levein explained. "We're in the process of dealing with that just now.
"The ones who are on development loan can play in the under-20s but by the rules they're not allowed to play in the first team.
"The question will be 'Can you let us bring them back so we've at least got players on the bench?'"
Levein said he was going public with the extent of the injuries as a warning to Hearts fans before they decide to make the journey to Ayrshire on Sunday.
"I was hit by this this morning," he said. "I don't know what to do.
"The suspensions I knew about but also Kyle [Lafferty] is doubtful. He hurt his shoulder the other night and that's giving him pain.
"If players are fit then I'll need to play them because I need to get a team on the field. It's not about taking risks.
"My main reason for doing this is that we've got supporters going down to Kilmarnock and I just wanted to make sure that everybody was aware that the journey might be a different one as it looks like I'll be playing a lot of very young players on the pitch.
"I can't believe it.
"Honestly. I came back down to earth with a bump this morning but it is what it is."