Hearts appeal over Fyssas' dismissal for lunging tackle

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The Independent Football

Heart of Midlothian will appeal against the red card shown to Takis Fyssas during their Scottish Premier League defeat by Celtic on New Year's Day. The Tynecastle club have scrutinised footage of the incident and believe that the Greek defender was unfairly punished by the referee, Iain Brines.

Hearts were leading 2-1 when Fyssas was dismissed for lunging at Shaun Maloney after 76 minutes and Celtic took advantage of their extra man, and went on to win the game 3-2 via two late goals from Stephen McManus.

The victory allowed them to stretch their lead over Hearts at the top of the SPL to seven points.

After the game the Hearts head coach Graham Rix questioned whether Fyssas had made contact with Maloney and whether he had restricted a goalscoring opportunity.

The club's majority shareholder, Vladimir Romanov, went even further, claiming yesterday that refereeing decisions had dented his club's title hopes this season.

Hearts have now decided to lodge an appeal against the dismissal with the Scottish Football Association.

A club spokesperson said: "Having carried out a detailed review of the incident involving the sending off of Takis Fyssas against Celtic on Sunday, Hearts will be appealing the decision. The club will be sending all related documentation to the SFA within the required three-day timescale."

Meanwhile, Celtic have confirmed that their midfielder Stilian Petrov will be out of action for three weeks with a hamstring injury after the Bulgarian international limped out of the game against Hearts.

Petrov's injury is not as serious as those sustained by Craig Beattie and Maciej Zurawski but the 26-year-old is likely to miss this weekend's Scottish Cup match against Clyde, as well as the SPL matches against Kilmarnock and Motherwell. His enforced absence could provide a short-term solution to the problem of making room for new signing Roy Keane in a team who have been performing well in recent weeks.

However, Stephen Pearson, who replaced Petrov and launched Celtic's comeback in the victory against Hearts, has also given the manager of Celtic, Gordon Strachan, plenty to think about over the coming weeks.

Speaking to the club's website, Strachan said: "Stan's [Petrov's] injury is not as severe as Beattie's or Zurawski's but it's to the same area. If you're asking for a time frame, although it's difficult to say at the moment, I'd say we're probably looking at him being out for about three weeks."

Strachan believes that Petrov's performances were suffering as a result of a gruelling schedule for club and country, which recently included a trip to the United States with the Bulgarian national team to take part in a programme of friendly matches.

Strachan hopes that an enforced rest for Petrov will prove to be a blessing in disguise for the talented midfielder. He added: "It's never good losing a player like Stan, but hopefully the rest will do him good. I think it's probably fair to say that he hasn't been as dynamic for us over recent games and, if you look at his performances, I think there's a lot there to suggest that his body has been getting tired.

"When you look at the games he has played, it's no real surprise. He has not missed many matches for club or country over the last couple of years and, when you look back to those games when he travelled to America recently with Bulgaria, maybe it's just all beginning to catch up with him now."