Blow for Hearts as Steven Naismith faces knee operation
The Hearts forward will be out for around 8-10 weeks after surgery on his knee.
Hearts forward Steven Naismith faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after it was confirmed he requires surgery on a knee injury.
Naismith was substituted during his side's 2-1 defeat to Celtic at the end of February and has since undergone scans to determine the extent of the injury.
Hearts boss Craig Levein has now confirmed the Scotland international will have to have an operation and will be missing for "8-10 weeks".
The news comes as a blow club and player with Naismith having been a likely member of the Scotland squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and San Marino. The forward, who is on loan from Norwich City, would have been hoping to pick up his 50th cap during the double-header.
"He goes for an op on Monday," Levein said. "It's unfortunate but it is what it is.
"I think he's getting a little bit shaved off his cartilage again so what was it last time, 8-10 weeks or something like that.
"I hope [he'll be back before the end of the season]. He came back really quickly last time so I'm hopeful it'll be the same again.
"I feel for Steven more than anything else. He obviously wanted to be involved on Monday and we've got a replay we want to get through and other big games.
"He's also sitting on 49 caps, one away from his 50th. He's a player whose generation have missed going to a major final and there's a chance Scotland might get to a major finals so I feel sorry for him.
"He's worked ever so hard to get back from last time and now this has happened again.
Hearts struggled when Naismith had a spell on the sidelines earlier in the season but Levein believes his side are better equipped to cope this time around.
"When he was out previously we had a shortage of strikers," he said. "Craig Wighton's back fully fit after an ankle problem and we've got David Vanacek in and we've got Uche Ikpeazu.
"So I don't feel quite as anxious as previously."