Hearts are awaiting confirmation of the severity of John Souttar’s Achilles tendon injury as the defender faces up to the possibility of nine months on the sidelines.

The Scotland internationalist had to be substituted just 15 minutes in to Saturday’s Scottish Cup victory over Rangers and manager Daniel Stendel confessed the luckless centre-half will definitely miss the rest of the season after because of a ruptured Achilles.

The 23-year-old former Dundee United player, who suffered the same injury in the other ankle in January 2017, when he was out of action for less than six months, was yesterday undergoing a scan to determine the extent of the damage and to plan for the likelihood of an operation.

His absence is a huge blow for Hearts in their bid for Premiership survival and, coupled with Scott McKenna’s hamstring injury, is also a major setback for Steve Clarke ahead of Scotland’s play-off encounter with Israel later this month.

“He was getting a scan and then we will decide on surgery and when; I think he will need surgery,” said Stendel. “It is the worst for him, for the club and for the team. Some situations you cannot influence but we hope he comes back in the summer stronger than before.

“He cannot help us on the pitch but I think he will help us in the changing-room with his attitude. We missed him for a long time before but the feeling when he was on the pitch and in the changing room was a big impact for the team.

“I hope he is back in the changing room soon. I think it is good for the atmosphere and the mentality of the team.”