Heart of Midlothian host Livingston on Wednesday evening as Steven Naismith's men look to bounce back from back-to-back defeats against the Old Firm and pick up some momentum ahead of Sunday's League Cup semi-final.

Could we see Stephen Kingsley return to the starting XI? Who's most likely to start in midfield? Any could the likes of Liam Boyce and Yutaro Oda be given an opportunity to make an impression?

Joel Sked and James Cairney talk us through their team selections below - and there are a few key areas where the pair disagree.

READ MORE: Steven Naismith provides Hearts squad fitness update ahead of Livingston clash

Joel Sked

Hearts Standard:

While Hearts came within ten minutes of a win at Ibrox and within around five minutes of a point after a largely sound performance where they frustrated Rangers for large parts of the game and looked composed in possession, it would be a surprise if Steven Naismith opted for a back five at home to Livingston. Especially at a time when fans are eager to see the team provide more attacking impetus and take the game to the opposition.

A midfield two of Beni Baningime and Calem Nieuwenhof has plenty of merit especially with Hearts likely to see a lot of the ball. Livingston's average possession share has been on the increase in recent seasons. While they play the second most accurate long balls in the league with Joel Nouble and Bruce Anderson a willing partnership in attack, they have players in the midfield who want to play, whether it is Jason Holt, Stephen Kelly or Andrew Shinnie. 

For Hearts, the big question is whether Baningime is up to the level of fitness where he can not only play two games in the space of four games but three games in the space of a week with the League Cup semi-final on the horizon. It would be no surprise to see Cammy Devlin return to the starting line-up with Hampden Park in mind.

Toby Sibbick should be fine to start at right-back and Stephen Kingsley would certainly have a case for the left-back spot. Prior to his injury the defender had been one of the club's best players this season. 

So, what about in attack? Lawrence Shankland is looking back to his best. He will likely face a wall of three centre-backs. Naismith could see value in bringing Liam Boyce back into the fold and looking to use the two strikers' movement and willingness for the ball to be played to feet to drag the centre-backs out of position with James Forrest and Kenneth Vargas attacking the box from wide. Alex Lowry will be available again and Yutaro Oda wasn't used against Rangers despite some promise off the bench against Celtic. They could easily come in centrally and out wide respectively.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Sibbick, Kent, Rowles, Kingsley; Devlin, Nieuwenhof; Forrest, Boyce, Vargas; Shankland.

READ MORE: A game of two halves: How Hearts let early lead slip against Rangers

James Cairney

Hearts Standard:

The match against Livingston is one where Hearts will be expected to seize the initiative and for that reason, I expect Naismith to revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Back-to-back losses against the Old Firm in the team’s previous two outings have left supporters craving victory, and three points would be a welcome morale boost ahead of Sunday’s League Cup semi-final.

With Craig Gordon and Craig Halkett not expected to return until after the upcoming international break, and Toby Sibbick and Odel Offiah expected to be in the squad after each picking up niggles in Sunday’s loss at Ibrox, there shouldn’t be too many sweeping changes here. Kye Rowles and Frankie Kent will surely form the central defensive partnership, and I think that Alex Cochrane’s encouraging performance against Rangers ensures the Englishman starts ahead of Stephen Kingsley at left-back. I’d expect Toby Sibbick to get the nod at right-back, although the versatile defender has made a couple of mistakes in recent weeks.

I think we will see Cammy Devlin return to the starting line-up at the expense of Beni Baningime, who also caught the eye against Rangers but is still building up his fitness after a lengthy first-team absence. I also think Calem Nieuwenhof offers more going forward than the former Everton man, and that extra creativity could prove crucial in unlocking what’s sure to be a stubborn Livingston defence. I’d expect to see Alex Lowry in at No.10, too – with this match coming sandwiched in between matches against his parent club, Naismith doesn’t have to worry about managing the midfielder’s minutes with one eye on Sunday’s semi-final. And against a team who sit deep in a low block like Livi, a natural playmaker can be just what is required to exploit any gaps Hearts can find.

With two goals in his last two games, Lawrence Shankland is the obvious choice at centre-forward. On the wings, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of changes. Alan Forrest has been in fine form in recent weeks and I think we will see him at left wing against his former club on Wednesday night, and I believe we might see Yutaro Oda come in on the right. The Japanese winger is another who is on the comeback trail and I think that his ability to work with the ball in tight areas will be very handy against Livingston. It would mean Kenneth Vargas dropping out of the side, but the Costa Rican attacker is still finding his feet at Hearts and hasn’t registered a single goal or assist since arriving in the summer. Perhaps now is the time for a change.

Predicted line-up: Clark; Sibbick, Kent, Rowles, Cochrane; Devlin, Nieuwenhof; Oda, Lowry, Forrest; Shankland.

 Hearts Standard:

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