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Hearts title hopes hit by long-term injuries to Souttar, Ikpeazu

London (AFP) – Surprise Scottish Premiership leaders Hearts have been dealt a double injury blow with central defender John Souttar and striker Uche Ikpeazu both ruled out for at least five months.

Hearts lead the league by two points from Edinburgh rivals Hibs with champions Celtic three points back in third and Steven Gerrard’s Rangers five points adrift down in sixth after eight games.

However, the loss of Souttar and Ikpeazu is a body blow to hopes of mounting an unlikely title challenge. 

Souttar tore the lining of his hip while on Scotland duty last week and could miss the next six months as a result.

Powerful striker Ikpeazu has scored four goals in 10 games since signing from Cambridge this summer, but he is also set for a spell on the sidelines after being told a recent foot injury requires surgery that could keep him out until March.

“John will be out for five or six months by the looks of things. He landed awkwardly and tore the lining of his hip, which is a blow,” said Hearts manager Craig Levein.

“Uche will be out for five months as well by the looks of things. This problem we’ve had with his foot we’ve managed to finally get to the bottom of.

“It’s a really obscure problem which needs an operation.”

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