Heart of Midlothian will be looking to extend their nine-game unbeaten run when they travel to face St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park. It is a trip the visiting support are used to making during midweek.

There is unlikely to be much change to the squad with Cammy Devlin, Liam Boyce and Barrie McKay all out. The game will come too soon for Kye Rowles and Nathaniel Atkinson.

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Joel Sked

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In comparison to recent weeks, I think this is a relatively easy line-up to predict/select. The team looked to be more creative and have increased attacking elements in the 4-3-3 following a period where the main focus was to ensure they were hard to score against.

Toby Sibbick performed admirably in the win over Dundee, even if he could have perhaps engaged Lyall Cameron more aggressively for the second goal but it was more of a collective failing than an individual one. I reckon Stephen Kingsley will come back in after illness. With Rowles unavailable he provides a nice balance in the back four with Frankie Kent.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the same midfield three start. There have been calls for Scott Fraser to make his first start for the club but I reckon you stick with Jorge Grant. He has progressed in the role and, yes, there will be games where he isn't as impactful but the midfielder understands the system and role. Fraser may be best utilised from the bench and then given a start against Airdrieonians. I wonder if Aidan Denholm may be brought in to replace Calem Nieuwenhof who has featured regularly of late. Denholm provides a wee bit more energy. That being said, Naismith really likes the Aussie and feels he helps bring control. That may be useful considering Hearts will have the majority of possession.

Lawrence Shankland is undroppable. I believe Alan Forrest is in that category now. It is really a question of Kenneth Vargas or Yutaro Oda. Both have been dovetailing and will know they will be brought off the bench if they don't start to inject pace into the final third.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Lembikisa, Kent, Kingsley, Cochrane; Baningime, Nieuwenhof, Grant; Vargas, Shankland, Forrest.

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James Cairney

I think we’ll see Steven Naismith stick with the 4-3-3 we’ve seen over the past few games for this one. In the previous meeting with the Saints, a cagey 1-0 win at Tynecastle in one of Craig Levein’s first games in charge of the Perth club, Hearts set up in a back three and some of its limitations were exposed. Specifically, St Johnstone sat off the Hearts players and very deep, relying on their rigorous defensive structure to maintain a clean sheet. It meant that whenever Hearts were building out from the back, Frankie Kent would be allowed to stroll forward unopposed. The centre-half’s distribution isn’t effective over long distances, and the men in maroon struggled to get going as a result. Too many attacks broke down before they could even begin.

It's because of this that I expect we’ll see a back four tonight. Sacrificing a man in defence makes the backline that little bit more vulnerable, but I don’t think it will harm Hearts’ chances of winning at McDiarmid Park. Levein’s side are reactive and tend to surrender possession, instead trying to catch their opponents out on the counter. As a result, Hearts will surely dominate the ball and the game’s outcome will likely rest on how well they use it. An extra attacker, at the expense of a defender, could make all the difference.

I’d expect Zander Clark to start in goal and an almost identical back four to the one that started in the 3-2 win over Dundee at the weekend, but with one crucial difference: Stephen Kingsley, who was ill and subsequently missed Saturday’s trip to Tayside, to come in for Toby Sibbick. The latter played fairly well against Dundee but could have done a little better for their second goal, and Kingsley is simply a safer pair of hands. The rest of the defence pretty much picks itself but with Australia knocked out of the Asian Cup, there will soon be extra competition for places when Nathaniel Atkinson and Kye Rowles join back up with the squad.

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I think the midfield will be a carbon copy of what we saw against Dundee, with Beni Baningime as the No.6, Calem Nieuwenhof to the right, and Jorge Grant slightly more advanced on the left. It’s surely only a matter of time before January signing Scott Fraser is handed his first start. The playmaker showed a couple of flashes of ability when coming off the bench for the final half-hour at Dens Park, but I suspect this game might come too soon for the 28-year-old, who didn’t play much first-team football at parent club Charlton earlier this season before sealing his move to Gorgie.

Lawrence Shankland has to start as the team’s focal point in attack and to his left, Alan Forrest surely can’t be overlooked. The Premiership’s player of the month for January is frankly undroppable on current form and is deservedly one of the first names on the team sheet, but it’s a little less clear-cut on the opposite flank. Yutaro Oda and Kenneth Vargas have shared the position recently, with mixed results, but I feel that the Costa Rican has offered more in recent games.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Lembikisa, Kent, Kingsley, Cochrane; Baningime, Nieuwenhof, Grant; Vargas, Shankland, Forrest.