Robbie Neilson admits Lawrence Shankland will be ‘touch-and-go’ for Saturday’s Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle against Celtic after the Edinburgh club’s top scorer missed out on Hearts’ trip to Parkhead.

The men from Gorgie travelled to Glasgow on Wednesday evening on league duty and Neilson rung the changes to the team’s starting line-up, making six alterations from Saturday’s 3-0 win over St Johnstone.

Shankland, who is Hearts’ top scorer this season and has been wearing the captain’s armband in Craig Gordon’s absence, picked up a knock leading up to the match, as did midfielder Robert Snodgrass and full-back Alex Cochrane.

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A bout of illness in the squad forced Neilson’s hand further for the trip to Celtic Park and while the Hearts head coach expects most of those missing to return for the Scottish Cup quarter-final this weekend, he admits he is unsure whether or not Shankland will be fit.

Speaking to BBC Scotland before the contest at Parkhead got under way, Neilson was asked about the changes to his starting XI.

He explained: “A lot of them are enforced – Lawrence, Robert Snodgrass and Alex Cochrane all picked up injuries. There was a wee bug in the group as well.

“And then there are one or two that have been rested as well. It is an opportunity to try and get in the team and it is a great chance for them.

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“I am hoping that we will have all three back [for this weekend’s Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle]. Out of the three Lawrence is probably the most touch-and-go, the other two will probably be fine.

“The league is important for us. Third place guarantees us European group stage football so it is really important that we come here with the strongest team that we felt we could put out for this game.

“When you come here you need energy, you need legs in the midfield. We feel the three in the middle will give us it.”

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