Impressive-looking new Hearts signing Toby Sibbick is too ill to face Celtic tonight, according to the Edinburgh Evening News.
Sibbick is one of three Jambos players who will definitely miss out. Aaron Hickey and Peter Haring join him on the sidelines. Another, John Souttar, remains a major doubt with Hearts boss Daniel Stendel not willing to risk him if he isn’t 100% fit (Edinburgh Evening News).
However, it’s the loss of Sibbick that is perhaps Hearts’ biggest blow tonight and our biggest gain. The defensive-midfielder arrived from Barnsley in January and has made two appearances for his new club.
He made his debut against Rangers at Tynecastle and produced a stunning individual display to keep the Ibrox men quiet. Sibbick showed real power and impressive timing in the challenge to consistently break up Rangers’ attacks.
In addition to that, he constantly showed good feet to get out of tight situations, used space to drive into, and showed a good range of passing as he spread the play for the Jambos. Had he not played against Steven Gerrard’s side, Hearts likely would’ve conceded a lot more chances than they did.
Hasn’t put a foot wrong
He then started against St Johnstone in Hearts’ 3-3 draw in Perth. There wasn’t much he could do to stop goalkeeper Joel Pereira from making the mistakes he did. However, he did bag his first assist in the encounter.
He hasn’t played in any of their last two matches against Kilmarnock and Falkirk respectively. No surprises then that Hearts conceded a ton of chances against both. Killie rattled home three goals at Tynecastle whilst Falkirk struck the woodwork three times on Saturday.
Sibbick is likely to be replaced in the team by another new signing tonight, Marcel Langer. Whilst he remains a relative unknown, he hasn’t made the same impressive impact as Sibbick.
Hearts have looked a lot more open without the on-loan Barnsley star protecting their back-line. Therefore, his absence tonight could be telling.
Outside of that, Hearts still look to have a strong starting XI available to them. Liam Boyce, Steven Naismith, and Conor Washington are all ready to feature up top for Stendel’s side if selected.
Celtic will have to expect that Hearts will try and play against us the same way they did against Rangers last month. However, with Sibbick’s absence sure to be felt, don’t expect them to look as efficient tonight.