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BRELLIER FACING FITNESS BATTLE
Hearts head coach Valdas Ivanauskas is optimistic of having inspirational midfielder Julien Brellier ready for the club's maiden Champions League clash against Siroki Brijeg next Wednesday.
The former Inter Milan player limped off in the first half of Wednesday's 2-0 friendly win over Spanish outfit Osasuna with a hamstring strain.
Brellier's availability is vital to the Tynecastle club with playmaker Paul Hartley set to miss the second qualifying round, first-leg match against the Bosnians with a groin problem.
However, Ivanauskas is hopeful the Frenchman will be fit for the Murrayfield tie following talks with the medical staff.
He said: "I know 80 per cent in my head the team that will start against Siroki, we have one week before that game and Julien picked up a small hamstring injury.
"Our physio says it is not serious but time is not on our side at the moment."
Lithuanian trialist Andrius Velicka opened the scoring for Hearts in the 74th minute with a superb volley to beat former Manchester United goalkeeper Ricardo.
Fellow substitute Ibrahim Tall notched the second with virtually the last kick of the game before over 18,000 supporters at the home of Scottish rugby.
Hearts will play their Champions League games at Murrayfield, with Tynecastle failing to meet UEFA's pitch criteria.
The ground holds 67,500 but Ivanauskas insists it does not have to be a sell-out for the supporters to create a good atmosphere.
He added: "I think it was a good atmosphere, the pitch was great and hopefully there will be more supporters next week.
"I am happy with the result ahead of our first Champions League game but what was more important for me was the performance of the players and they did okay.
"For us, it was a strong test and it is good for our mentality, we have not lost a pre-season game and this is very important for the players."
Taken from sportinglife.com