Report: Hearts' Christophe Berra and Jamie Brandon struggling for Celtic visit

By David Walton

December 18, 2019

Hearts’ luck just seems to go from bad to worse as both Christophe Berra and Jamie Brandon are reportedly major doubts tonight.

According to the Edinburgh Evening News, both men are in a race against time to be fit. Hearts are apparently going to make a late call on whether it’s worth featuring either of them.

However, look at the list of players who are already out tonight. Uche Ikpeazu, Steven Naismith, Aidy White, Callumn Morrison, Peter Haring, John Souttar, Ben Garuccio, and Conor Washington are all going to be absent this evening too (Edinburgh Evening News).

Christophe Berra (right) is a major doubt tonight (Alan Rennie/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Should both Berra and Brandon also be sidelined, that would leave Hearts with a staggering 10 players missing for tonight’s game.

Of course, the standout player here is Berra. He’s the Hearts captain and is one of their most reliable and experienced campaigners. He’s played in 23 of their 24 games this season, showing just how vital he is to the cause in Edinburgh (Transfermarkt).

Top centre-back partnership potentially missing for Hearts?

Should Berra miss out, that would leave Hearts without their top centre-back partnership in him and Souttar. They do have Craig Halkett back, but there’s a big worry about who could replace Berra. Clevid Dikamona is the only natural centre-back remaining who could come in, but he seriously lacks pace and can be considered a highly inferior player to the Hearts captain.

Jamie Brandon is also doubtful (Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

If Daniel Stendel does indeed decide for a high-press tonight, Dikamona is exactly the kind of player he doesn’t want to have in defence. It just about sums up Hearts’ luck these days.

Even if Berra does start, big questions have to be asked of his fitness levels. Celtic could get some joy out of him tonight if he isn’t 100% ready.

Brandon, meanwhile, has hardly featured for Hearts this season. He’s only managed to play on eight occasions for the Jambos (Transfermarkt). There isn’t much to get excited about should he be declared unfit, with Aaron Hickey likely to start at left-back in any case.

Hearts boss Daniel Stendel is running out of options (Andy Whitehead | MI News)

Hearts come into this one with more injury problems than they’ve had in any other game all season. They don’t look impressive regardless and everything seems to be going against them heading into tonight.

Thankfully, Celtic have a manager in Neil Lennon who will demand that we shut the door on complacency. Hopefully that reflects in our performance tonight.