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Uefa tie return is on for Hartley

HEARTS midfielder Paul Hartley will return to the Tynecastle club's line-up for the Champions League third round qualifier second leg against AEK Athens.

The Scotland international watched as his side conceded two late goals against the Greeks on Wednesday night and is desperate to be a part of the side that tries to claw their way back into the tie from 2-1 down.

Hartley has yet to play any games this season because of a groin problem, but is optimistic his time on the sidelines is coming to a close.

"I am pencilled in to return for the second leg," he said.

"There is a bounce game next Tuesday so if that goes well hopefully I will be available. I am desperate to play, but I also don't want to play and make it worse.

"But it has been very frustrating going to the games and watching from the stand instead of being out there playing.

"I don't think any player likes to miss big games and I know I'm no different.

"It's murder sitting watching a Champions League game when you are desperate to be out there.

"This was such an important game and there was nothing I could do to influence it.

"It's going to be hard over in Athens but we still have a chance. I certainly saw signs of hope after the first game.

"They are a quality side and created numerous chances, but we still created a few chances ourselves and managed to score."

Hartley has refused to give up on the Champions League dream and has insisted that Hearts are still upbeat about the task that lies ahead of them.

"We'll clearly go into the game as massive underdogs with them winning away from home and us being 2-1 down, but there have been much stranger results in football than us winning 2-0 in Athens," he said.

"We just have to go there and give it our best shot - simple as that."

Taken from Evening Times

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