Heart of Midlothian return to action on Saturday in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup when they make the short trip to Ainslie Park to face The Spartans.

The teams played each other in a behind-closed-doors fixture at Tynecastle Park earlier in the season but this will be the first competitive meeting between the sides. While Hearts sit third in the Premiership with eight wins from the last 11, Spartans are third in League Two, their first season in the fourth tier having won promotion from the Lowland League.

Joel and James discuss the options for Steven Naismith and what his likely starting XI could be.

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Hearts Standard:

There are a few factors to consider when deciding what route Steven Naismith will go down for the trip to EH5. Namely, stick with the back three or move to a back four? With Lawrence Shankland a doubt, he may want to put two players through the middle to add extra attacking threat. That would mean a back three. Attacking width high up the pitch against a side that will likely sit deep and compact could prove useful. Therefore a back four.

Dexter Lembikisa is set to make his debut and has experience at both right-back and wing-back. Both Wolves and Naismith want him to have more attacking responsibility. It may also be an opportunity to keep Craig Halkett fresh for the Dundee match around the corner. It is further forward where there are fewer options. Shankland's illness, Barrie McKay's injury and Alex Lowry's departure have limited Naismith's attacking possibilities. The head coach won't want to take risks, such as Jorge Grant from the start following his injury lay-off but he would be expected to be involved at some point. Aidan Denholm could be handed a more attacking role having gained praise from Naismith for the timing of his forward runs.

Yutaro Oda could be given a chance to impress in a winger role. One which has not been available of late. There is also the possibility of Kyosuke Tagawa but Kenneth Vargas was in fine form prior to the winter break.

But what about the goalkeeper? Naismith has said there is a "chance" Craig Gordon will return between the sticks. He has had to be patient after returning from a long-term injury. There is a gut feeling he will feature in the fixture.

Predicted line-up: Gordon; Lembikisa, Kent, Kingsley, Cochrane; Baningime, Denholm, Nieuwnhof; Forrest, Vargas, Oda.

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Hearts Standard:

I think we can expect the team’s shape to change for this one. The back three has provided a strong foundation in the Premiership but with such a big disparity between Hearts and Spartans, three centre-backs might be overkill. I think we’re more likely to see the 4-3-2-1 formation from earlier this season.

I expect a couple of significant personnel changes, too. Naismith has previously hinted that Craig Gordon and Zander Clark will both receive first-team minutes between now and the end of the season, and I can think of no better game for Gordon to make his comeback. Hearts’ goalkeeper is unlikely to find themself making lots of saves at Ainslie Park, and the game would provide the Hearts legend with ease back into first-team football.

With Nathaniel Atkinson and Kye Rowles representing Australia at the Asian Cup, new signing Dexter Lembikisa is a shoo-in to start at right-back, and we can expect to see Alex Cochrane on the other side. I think we’ll see a centre-back partnership of Frankie Kent and Stephen Kingsley, with Craig Halkett just missing out. Hearts will likely dominate possession this afternoon, and Kent and Kingsley offer more on the ball than the former Livingston man.

Beni Baningime missed the final two league fixtures before the winter break as he was fatigued but I expect the 24-year-old to return for this one in his metronomic role in midfield. Aidan Denholm is the most likely candidate to join Baningime, and his experience of playing against Spartans in the Lowland League last season should stand him in good stead.

With Barrie McKay absent with injury and Alex Lowry back at Rangers, I'd expect to see Calem Nieuwenhof in the No.10 position, and the Aussie will have to shoulder much of the team’s creative burden this afternoon. I think we’ll see Alan Forrest and Yutaro Oda on the wings – the duo’s close control and ability in small areas could prove highly useful on the tight Ainslie Park pitch.

With Lawrence Shankland missing through illness and Liam Boyce still recovering from a knock sustained in December, Naismith doesn’t have all that many options up front. Kyosuke Tagawa is the only other out-and-out centre-forward on the books at Tynecastle, but the Japanese is still adapting to his new surroundings. Kenneth Vargas, the team’s second-top scorer with three goals, is probably the best candidate to lead the line this afternoon.

Predicted line-up: Gordon; Lembikisa, Kent, Kingsley, Cochrane; Baningime, Denholm; Oda, Nieuwenhof, Forrest; Vargas.