Heart of Midlothian defeated Kilmarnock in a bounce game at Rugby Park. Steven Naismith's men won 2-1 thanks to goals from Kenneth Vargas and Adam Forrester as the squad gained valuable minutes following time off during the winter break.

Hearts return to action on Saturday when they face The Spartans in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup before hosting Dundee three days later in the Premiership.

Craig Gordon and Zander Clark both played 45 minutes in the match in Ayrshire, while new boy Dexter Lembikisa got 45 minutes under his belt before a possible debut for the club this weekend after his loan move from Wolverhampton Wanderers. 

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There was further good news with Beni Baningime returning to action having missed the two matches before the winter break. The midfielder felt something toward the end of the win over Hibs in December and sat out the draw with Ross County and win over Livingston. Finlay Pollock also got some game time. It followed 45 minutes for Hearts B earlier this month in the 12-0 win over Edinburgh University at Ainslie Park.

Lawrence Shankland was involved and Craig Halkett got another 60 minutes under his belt. Vargas, having netted in the two matches before the break, scored once more. The other goal scorer Forrester is highly rated at the club and played on the right-hand side.

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Meanwhile, Jorge Grant wasn't in action but is expected to return to first-team training on Tuesday.

Naismith opted against a warm-weather training camp following an intense period of matches across November, December and into January as players were given extra time off to recuperate before the second half of the season.

"The players will get some time off and I think they need it," he explained. "We will give them an extended time off, rather than coming back for a camp. I don’t think that would be value for money or beneficial for the players.

"When we come back we will have a block of four days that are really tough with a game which will get everybody back up to speed. And then we have got three games in a week in our first week back, which will be good for us getting back into the rhythm of games."