Influential Hearts midfielder Peter Haring could miss the start of the Scottish Premiership season.
The 26-year-old continues to feel persistent pain in his groin and pelvis area, despite undergoing surgery at the beginning of this year.
Haring battled through the pain to help Hearts reach the Scottish Cup final and he played in the defeat by Celtic at Hampden Park.
The club are seeking a second opinion from a specialist and Haring will definitely not be involved when Hearts travel to Cowdenbeath in the Betfred Cup on Tuesday.
“We’re pretty sure we know what the problem is. We just want to be certain. We’ve had one opinion and we’re waiting on another,” Hearts boss Craig Levein told the club website.
Levein, whose return to Cowdenbeath sees him back at the club where he started both his playing and management career, plans to sign a midfielder but thinks teenager Andy Irving could be an option in Haring’s absence in the meantime.
“I will bring in another midfielder. I’m going to take some time and make sure we get the right one in,” said Levein.
“He (Irving) showed signs in pre-season and was certainly working hard over the summer and kept himself in good shape. He was more prominent in the running that we did in pre-season, so that gave me some encouragement.
“We know he’s talented, there’s no question of that, but in that midfield area there needs to be a physical element as well, so I’m glad he’s improved on that front.”
Irving started and scored against Dundee United in Friday night’s opening Betfred Cup group game before being sent off, so he is suspended at Cowdenbeath. However, Steven MacLean returns after a ban.
Jake Mulraney is unlikely to be risked after his hamstring tightened up following the game against United, while Harry Cochrane is in Levein’s thoughts after missing out last week.
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