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Injury blow for Hamilton boss Rice as Easton ruled out for up to 12 weeks

Hamilton head coach Brian Rice hopes his young side can play without fear against relegation rivals Hearts after the loss of experienced defender Brian Easton added to his injury woes.

Easton has been ruled out for eight to 12 weeks after dislocating his shoulder in Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat by Aberdeen.

Accies were already without attacking players Mickel Miller, George Oakley and Andy Dales with hamstring injuries while Steve Davies has been struggling with a calf problem.

Rice also has concerns over two unnamed players as Accies head for Tynecastle to play the side one point below them at the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership.

And he faces having to go with a side of inexperienced players for one of the biggest games of the season.

“I’m down to the bare bones,” Rice said. “My injury situation is – I’m not talking about it again – it’s absolutely horrendous.

“Every injury we get is a major injury. I’m not going to spend my time talking about the boys that are injured because they can’t help us in this situation. It’s nobody’s fault.

“We will talk about the boys who will step up to the plate and are going to have to show courage and bravery and get us out the position we are in.”

Rice, whose team have generally been the youngest in the Premiership this season, added: “Sometimes it’s easier with the younger ones because they have not got any fear – they just go out and play with natural enthusiasm and they always try.

“They will make mistakes, I recognise that. Experienced players make mistakes as well. Experienced players know the severity of the situation and that sometimes affects the performance. Whereas young players I believe have that freedom and never-say-die attitude.

“That’s what I am looking for – give it everything you have got and just do your best.

“We train with a smile on our faces. There is a time to work and time to play.

“There’s enough pressure on young kids going in the team without saying this is a relegation battle.

“Whoever goes out will know their job and we need to compete better than we did on Wednesday night.”