Robbie Neilson is braced for a Scottish Cup squad headache with up to 11 of his first team struggling with injuries.
Neilson is planning to be without at least five of his stars for the quarter final visit of St Mirren, with late calls to be made on the rest.
John Souttar, Michael Smith, Alex Cochrane, Cammy Devlin, Peter Haring, Gary Mackay-Steven and Josh Ginnelly all missed training on Thursday, with Craig Halkett and Beni Baningime also carrying knocks.
The Hearts boss refused to discuss details of the injuries but said: “We’ve had a great record throughout the season of having very few injuries then all of a sudden we get a number within a few days.”
“At this moment in time we have 11 players who are carrying knocks but it won’t be 11 that are out on Saturday. I expect to have probably six of them back.
“I know almost 90% of who is going to start the game and one or two who are borderline.
“Because we went with a small squad but a quality squad, any of the 18 outfield first team players can come in to the starting 11 and be a top four team.
“We’ll have a strong team for Saturday. Whether we have depth in the squad like we’ve had recently in terms of having nine players on the bench, probably not.
“We are probably looking at having four or five on the bench.”
Neilson said he could turn to the club’s Under-18 squad to fill the substitutes bench if needed.
Steven Naismith’s youngsters recently booked a place in the Scottish Youth Cup final but the majority of the players who are too old to play under-18s are out on loan.
Neilson said: “We made a decision to put the guys who are below the first team but too old for the Under-18s out on loan because we don’t have a reserve league.
“They need to stay on their development loan so it would be the Under-18s who come in.
“It will be a good experience for them if they are needed.”